During my first ten years in the environmental health and safety profession, I visited thousands of different businesses - essentially a different business every day. As a consultant conducting safety and industrial hygiene surveys, I talked to everyone from people pushing brooms to CEOs. One phrase resonated throughout these conversations - "We're different here." - with the implication that traditional safety management techniques wouldn't work.
I believed it, at least the first hundred or so times I heard it. After a while, I learned to just acknowledge the sentiment while continuing to probe. I tried to ignore the differences and focus on the similarities of clients' safety programs in order to deliver safety and health management assistance.