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Engineering education programs, especially at the P–12 level, pose inherent legal and ethical responsibilities pertaining to safety that cannot be ignored. Cultivating safer practices and habits during the design and hands-on development of engineering solutions starts well before students enter higher education engineering programs. P–12 engineering education programs play a critical role in enhancing safety awareness, developing safer habits, and improving safety culture, which has an influence on the safety practices that students carry with them into higher education programs and the workplace. This study analyzed the safety factors and accident occurrences reported by 305 P–12 engineering educators from the southern United States (U.S.), specifically focusing on differences in safety between engineering design/pre-engineering (ED/PE) courses and other types of P–12 engineering courses. Analyses found that ED/PE courses had a significantly greater proportion of accident occurrences over a five-year span in comparison to other P–12 engineering courses in the southern U.S. Further analyses identified six risk factors (e.g., course enrollment size) and 11 protective factors (e.g., various forms of safety training) that were significantly associated with accident occurrences in the southern U.S. ED/PE courses. Moreover, it was discovered that hot glue guns were involved in a significantly higher proportion of accidents in ED/PE courses compared to other P–12 engineering courses in the southern U.S.; however, there were no significant differences in the proportion of accidents involving other tools or items. As suggested by accident causation model research, the data from this study can inform proactive safety efforts to address significant safety risk and protective factors in P–12 engineering education courses, which should reduce the severity and occurrence of accidents. Additionally, this study provides implications for fostering collaborative safety efforts among P–12 engineering education programs, higher education engineering programs, and engineering workforce partners to address critical gaps in safety instruction.



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