Stepping Up Safety With Watco

Stepping Up Safety With Watco

Project details

In 2008 the MPT consortium* was awarded the Manchester’s Metrolink phase 3a extension project, a 49 stop, £275 million extension to the Manchester Metro. The new build allowed contractors to shop around for the best products for the job, but one essential product could not be found.

Throughout this three-year development, best practice and user health and safety have been the priorities. Steps were designed to minimise risk of trips and slips for pedestrians, the disabled and visually impaired.

Each of the 1,400 pre-cast concrete steps on the new platforms required a non-slip front edge and MPT scoured the world for suitable products. The design criteria required that the nosing would be:

  • Suitable for heavy use in an external environment
  • Compliant to the Building Regulation Part M
  • Providing a solution in accordance with BS8300 2009 Inner B Code of Practice, against the finished concrete in both wet and dry conditions

The solution

Adrian Rowe, MPT Engineering Manager and his team tested a wide range of products, short listing three, including Firm-Step Edge®. Watco product met the design criteria but was unavailable in the required specification, size and colour. Not wanting to let this opportunity pass by, Watco took up the challenge and developed an exclusive version of Firm-Step Edge® in black, with a 70mm tread and 55mm riser.


“Watco was brilliant in sorting out our problem, giving us excellent service throughout. They understood our needs and delivered prototypes in a week. They also developed an exclusive version of their Firm-Step Edge®, in the specified black shade, with a 70mm tread and 55mm riser that fitted on to the rebated precast step to keep the nosing flush. It also had perfect internal angles so it sat snugly on the standard profile of the nose on the precast concrete steps.”

Following the first installation in February 2011, Firm-Step Edge® is now being screwed and bonded to steps at every stop along the 49 stop extensions.

Firm-Step Edge® is an economical, quick to install safety feature. Firm-Step Edge® offers a tough GRP base that is resistant to stretching, warping and swelling. Watco offer two grades: medium for internal and coarse for external stairs, both of which are easily glued using Watco Adhesive Mastic or drilled for screw fixing. The textured finish offers excellent slip-resistance and a chamfered back edge minimises trip potential. Available in white or yellow, Firm-Step Edge® can be cut on site if required using a hacksaw or similar cutting tool or we offer a cut to size service.

*MPT (M. Pact Thales) is a consortium comprising Laing O’Rourke, VolkerRail and Thales UK.