Well-attended and positively received, the TSA’s retail services conference, held at the Stratford Manor Hotel, Stratford, on Thursday 18 March, stimulated debate amongst the 64 delegates over issues as diverse as health and safety and care labelling.

Colin Rowe, president, TSA, opened the proceedings by expressing his hope that the conference would maintain the momentum for change in the industry which had been the theme of his two years as president.

  Health and safety was raised to the top of the conference agenda by Stephen Flanagan, of the Health and Safety Executive. In a graphically illustrated account, Mr Flanagan spoke on the causes and the important lessons to be learnt from an explosion in a drycleaners in Cheadle in July 1997, which seriously injured four people.

The explosion resulted from a build-up of the flammable spotting agent, amyl acetate, in a Donini drycleaning machine, which had not been properly maintained or serviced since purchase. The cleaner was fined £3000, following a prosecution by Mr Flanagan last year.

   In support of raising awareness of health, safety and environmental issues, Derrick Johns, of National Britannia, in a polished paper, spoke of the company’s Response-line service, provided free-of-charge and purchased on behalf of members by the TSA.

New cleaning technologies and related equipment innovations were also high on the agenda. Sten-Hakan Almstrom, Electrolux Laundry Systems, spoke on the principles of liquid carbon dioxide (LCO2) used as a solvent in a new cleaning process, provoking discussion on its future impact on drycleaning. Also described were the experiences of an Electrolux-Wascator LCO2 test machine.

Giving the conference an international perspective, Petra Klein, from the Hohenstein Research Institute in Germany, gave an update on the progress of care labelling for new cleaning technologies, posing the question, “Will there ever be mandatory care labelling in Europe?” Providing a user’s point of view, Martin Lewis, of Lewis & Wayne, described his experiences of using hydrocarbon solvents. Core to this paper was a request for an independent research project to be conducted on this relatively new area of technology. Drystream also presented an instructive paper on the benefits of EPOS systems.