Reaching the ‘gold standard’ in health and safety

ormed in 1984, Comfort Controls’ goal is to create energy efficient buildings that are safe, sustainable and beneficial to the occupants. This is achieved by carefully managing the balance between the users’ requirements and their energy consumption.


Comfort Controls is considered to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for turnkey projects, from the conception stages of specification writing, through to the design and engineering of the bespoke systems and into the implementation stage. The company seamlessly integrates building services into a PC-based management system, thus creating a centralised structure for energy saving and control.

In this arcle, Kris Mitchell, director at building management controls specialist, Comfort Controls, discusses the heavy emphasis the company places on health and safety, and how this helped it to go on and win gold in its first RoSPA Awards applicaon – a virtually unheard of achievement and testament to its dedicaon to establishing excellent H&S processes

The team works on and controls projects across myriad sectors, including hospitals, universities, schools, retail parks, industrial units and leisure centres. Today, the company is proud to hold Safe Contractor, Construction Line, CHAS and SMAS accreditations.

Growth increased substantially from 2010, initially with five core staff the company now employs 42 people full-time working out of its Hertfordshire HQ, alongside a Midlands division and a dedicated service and maintenance department. Despite its growth, the company continues to maintain its family-orientated feel. The team supports one another – for the good of the business. The company is now in four distinct business units: projects; installation; service and maintenance; and a motor control panel manufacturing workshop. This structure allows for quick responses to the needs of any project, to provide the best service and efficiency.

With rapid growth we felt the time had come to change the operational structure to ensure we continued meeting all targets. We are now in year nine of our health and safety success story. We continually evolve; not only because we have to, but because we want to.

RoSPA Health and Safety Awards

In April 2019, the company was delighted to announce that on its first application it had achieved gold in the internationally renowned RoSPA Health and Safety Awards, the longest- running industry awards scheme in the UK. It’s an astonishing achievement for a first-time entrant. The company was presented with the award during a ceremony at ExCeL, London on Tuesday 18 June.

The RoSPA Awards scheme, which receives entries from organisations around the world, recognises achievement in health and safety management systems, including practices such as leadership and workforce involvement.


We are thrilled to have won this award; it’s a real testament to the hard work and dedication of our growing team.

We like our engineers to stay healthy and on top of their game, and keeping fit is a major part of this. We have recently launched a number of wellbeing initiatives, and talk to our engineers frequently about health issues, so it starts to become part of our regular safety discussions. We have always taken health and safety seriously, and have worked with our specialist consultancy partner, Hosking Associates, since 2010. They have played an integral and strategic role in our day-to-day practices, which has – ultimately – supported our rapid growth. We would not have achieved this accolade without their help.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s head of qualifications, awards and events, says: “The RoSPA Awards have become the key fixture in the health and safety calendar with new sponsors and awards this year including the Leisure Safety Awards, the Safe@Work Safe@Home Award and the Inspiration Awards. Highly respected, with almost 2,000 entrants every year, RoSPA award winners benefit from the wide-ranging rewards of improved sector reputation.”

Taking health and safety seriously – vital for staff to be looked after

Comfort Controls’ success is down to its staff; it is therefore vital these employees are looked after in the best way possible. The estimated cost across UK industry of injuries and ill health due to working conditions is £15 bn*. It therefore makes sense for employer and employee alike to focus on promoting and establishing proper systems to protect the health and safety of all individuals within the business.

Working together with their consultancy, the team spent five years implementing health and safety processes throughout the business. The company now employs its own dedicated health and safety coordinator, Jemma Blande. She makes sure all internal auditing of systems is completed, engineers are furnished with the right health and safety information at the right time and coordinates feedback. Health and Safety are at the core of the business.

Jemma Blande comments: “Maintaining quality is key, and because of that health and safety is critical in all things we do. We need to make sure our highly skilled engineers get home safely, and we need to ensure that we remain fully up-to-date with all working practices.”

Their philosophy is about driving health and safety from the top, filtering it down to everyone.

Projects they are working on introducing, or have already implemented include: a counselling helpline, branded water bottles, education on skin care and dust exposure. Mental and physical health topics are frequently touched upon in ‘tool box’ talks.

The company believes each individual improvement in health and well-being has an exponential effect on the health and well-being of the whole team. This holistic approach includes team events and activities, team- building challenges such as ‘One True Grit’, and encouragement to take on challenges such as The London Marathon, which I completed just this year. This is a two way process, staff are asked to feedback in a monthly anonymous survey with results analysed and considered every six months.

Health and Safety – opening doors

Whenever we are presented with a supplier questionnaire or tender document, it is satisfying to be able to respond rapidly, 99 per cent of them require the necessary accreditations for us to be able to complete work on their sites. We know that we can always tick the required health and safety boxes and grease the wheels. Without the stringent health and safety procedures we have in place, we wouldn’t be where we are today. It has taken so much work to ensure we meet this level of compliance, but we are so proud of what we have now achieved as a team.

We will continue to enter the RoSPA Awards each year, because we know there is always room for improvement, and we want to demonstrate that we can continue to achieve at this level. However, we recognise we’ve set the bar very high!”

Commenting on the work of Comfort Controls, Louise Hosking, director at Hosking Associates, says: “Achieving a Gold RoSPA Award upon an initial application is rare. This has taken real focus, involving all levels of the business. They have used ordinary, readily available technology to track progress, as well as training and surveying staff to understand what works and what doesn’t. They have also taken on the challenge of talking openly about health and mental wellness in an organisation. Comfort Controls is the ideal health and safety client; a company who are keen to adapt and learn and be the best they can be for the benefit of their staff and clients.” * 2016/17 report

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