Mellem sikkerhed og faglighed: arbejdsmiljøarbejde med vold i relationsarbejde

Translated title of the contribution: Between safety and professional ideals : – occupational health and safety work with violence in relational work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


There is an increasing focus on violence at work in Denmark, which appears to be a persistent problem especially within what can broadly be termed relational work. This article analyzes how a strengthened focus on systematized safety-procedures unfolds in occupational health and safety work with violence in a 24-hour care institution for children, and in two residences for adults with psychiatric problems. Our aim is to understand the diffusion of formalized systems of safety in occupational health and safety work with violence, and to understand how these interact with professional ideals in relational work. The three cases were studied as part of a broader research project on the development of occupational health and safety work within Danish companies. Over a three-year period, a combination of interviews, observations, document collection and workshops was carried out to explore the occupational health and safety work of the three organizations. In this article, we analyze this material with a specific focus on how occupational health and safety work with violence unfolded.
Theoretically, an understanding of the identities of violent subjects as formed within discursive power relations is used to study the consequences of the strengthened focus on systematized safety-procedures. The emergence of a safety discourse in the three workplaces brings about a variety of procedures, meant to prevent and compensate for violence as a risk factor in the work environment, whereas professional efforts to develop (the relation to) the residents are not granted the same attention. The safety discourse thereby tends to overshadow efforts based on professional ideals of e.g. recognition, empowerment and ‘recovery’ in occupational health and safety work with violence. However, the safety discourse is not completely dominant in the three workplaces and co-exists with understandings of violence based on these professional ideals. This co-existence entails conflictual understandings of residents as both unpredictable, explosive, potentially dangerous risk factors, and as independent human beings capable of development, growth and ‘recovery’. Conflictual understandings that have to be balanced by the staff in their daily work and relations with residents. In continuation of this, our analyses show that violence comes to be perceived as a basic condition of work in the three workplaces, but also that the risk of violence is individualized and perceived as related to workers’ individual professional competences and levels of personal ‘resilience’. This particular combination of a safety discourse and a discourse of professional competence and personal resilience creates a potential for marginalization of workers affected by violence.
Translated title of the contributionBetween safety and professional ideals : – occupational health and safety work with violence in relational work
Original languageDanish
JournalTidsskrift for Arbejdsliv
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

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