Professionals without a profession: Occupational safety and health professionals in Denmark

Christian Uhrenholdt Madsen, Peter Hasle, Hans Jørgen Limborg

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In this essay we describe the development of health and safety professionals in Denmark. We show how the historical
particularities of the so-called 'Danish model', compromises between various health and safety stakeholders, and a
lack of pure health and safety educations led to the establishment of an occupational group of professionals
characterized by heterogeneity in backgrounds and multidisciplinarity in approaches and methods. Then we discuss
how recent tendencies to the mainstreaming of enterprises' health and safety efforts have challenged the composition
of the health and safety professionals, and made other types of professionals competitors in terms of solving health
and safety issues. In the essay we propose a conceptual model that combines insights from new institutional theory on
fields and knowledge on the tasks of health and safety professionals. In this way the model helps us illustrate the
relationship between health and safety professionals and their competitors in the health and safety work within Danish
enterprises. Finally we discuss if and how a further professionalization could take place in the Danish context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSafety Science
Pages (from-to)356-361
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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