Date of Award

Spring 1-5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Casanova

Second Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Strasser


INTRODUCTION: There have been 1,141 laboratory acquired infections between the period of 1979-2005 according to the American Biological Safety Association. This substantial number of infections represents a risk for laboratory workers. These laboratory infections are not frequent in all laboratories and it has been concluded that “human errors represent a very high percentage of the cases.” (Wurtz et al, 2016) The research shows that this human error is a result of flawed risk perception and poor biosafety habits.

AIM: The aim of this thesis is to build a constructive foundation for a future study on risk perception and biosafety habits of GSU laboratory workers. This thesis will accomplish this goal by conducting a literature review on factors that contribute to biosafety habits and risk perception, editing of the survey tool, and pilot interviews using the completed survey tool.

METHODS: This thesis contains a narrative literature review of research during 1995 to the present conducted on biosafety training, biosafety habits (including personal protective equipment use), and laboratory acquired infections. This literature explains the factors that contribute to worker’s risk perception and improper use of personal protective equipment. The results of the literature review were utilized to create a survey tool for the upcoming research. Finally, this survey tool was pilot tested with two researchers at the university.

RESULTS: The literature review conducted for this thesis highlighted the lack of consistency of biosafety habits, risk perception, and training in biosafety laboratory workers. Additionally, the findings of the literature suggest that laboratory acquired infections represent a real risk for workers who have poor biosafety habits. Thus, the literature suggests that a future study on the PPE use and risk perception of GSU laboratory workers is essential. The results of editing the survey tool and the pilot interview will help facilitate this future study.

DISCUSSION: Laboratory acquired infections represent a real risk for laboratory workers who do not follow proper biosafety habits, do not receive the proper biosafety training, or have poor judgement on risk perception. It is necessary to understand the PPE use of GSU laboratory workers to ensure that there is not a higher risk of laboratory acquired infections. Thus, the future study conducted by Dr. Lisa Casanova, with this thesis as a foundation, will be critical in investigating the current practices of GSU laboratory workers and their potential risk.