Safety Footwear designed for work has to undergo tests to prove they are fit for purpose.
Safety shoes and boots are worn to protect the wearers’ toes against falling objects and crushing when working in environments where potential hazards occur.
The Standard for Safety Footwear is EN ISO20345:2011 this tells you the footwear has Toe protection of 200 Joules, which equates to a 20kg weight falling just over a Metre on to the foot.

Impact Resistance Test: A steel weight of 20kg is adapted to fall freely on top of the footwear sample in order to assess the strength of the toe cap. After impact, the distance between the toe cap and the insole must range between 12.5 –15mm and Compression resistance of 15000 Newtons, that is 1.5 tonnes of weight on your toes.

Compression Resistance Test: The footwear sample is subjected to a force of 15kN between two steel plates. Upon completion of the test, the distance between the toe cap and the insole must range between 12.5 –15mm.

This is the basic requirement and is indicated by the marking SB

Steel toecaps are still popular, but more and more toe and midsole protection is switching to other options such as Aluminium and Composites and Kevlar, the benefits are lighter weight, more flexible midsole protection, and the caps don’t stay crushed, as well as advantages for the Air and Security workplace with metal detecting equipment.

You will see different symbols next to our products showing metal toe   and metal midsole 
Non Metal toe caps have the symbol    and composite/ kevlar flexible midsoles

We do sell some footwear which is only resistant to 100 Joules, this is tested to the Safety standard EN ISO20346:2014 Protective Footwear these are clearly identified on our site and are named Protective, not Safety footwear. Indicated with the marking PB

Obviously there are more hazards present in the workplace that require extra protection on top of safety toe caps.

You will see some safety footwear marked S1, this means it is tested the same as SB but also benefits from:

  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorbing heel and must have a fully enclosed heel.
  • S2 markings mean the footwear has the same qualities but is also tested to be Water Resistant, (Not Waterproof)

There are other letters which indicate other protective and useful qualities for safety footwear, these are:

HRO - Heat resistant sole to 300°C for 60 seconds

FO - Fuel & Oil resistant sole

M - Metatarsal (upper foot) protection

CR - Cut resistant upper

WR - Water resistant uppers

  P - Penetration resistant midsole (you will see this added to the SB and S1 if they have a protective midsole SBP, S1P)

CI - Cold insulation

  A - Antistatic,  Anti-static footwear protects the user from medium levels of electricity that could cause serious injury whereas ESD footwear protects the product i.e. electronic devices and circuitry from a buildup of static that can cause damage.

  ESD - Conforms to EN 61340-5-1 any footwear described as ESD must have the yellow and black logo on them. ESD footwear is ideally suited for the electronics industry, laboratories and other workplaces where delicate, electronic components are used. Anti-static shoes have an electrical resistance between 0.1 and 1000 MegaOhm (MO), measured according to EN 20344: 2011 5 10 whereas ESD has an extremely low electrical resistance between 0.1 and 100 MegaOhm. 

  SRA or SRC Test for slip resistance of the sole.

SRA graded footwear is tested on a ceramic tile floor upon which a solution called sodium Lauryl sulphate (NaLS) is applied. This solution acts as a lubricant to gauge the slip resistance of the footwear in slippery conditions. The slip resistance is determined based on the frictional force of the item of footwear i.e. its ability to resist slipping over the surface. The results are expressed as the dynamic coefficient of friction, a measure of resistance to slipping accidents.

SRA footwear is tested on ceramic floors only. 
SRB graded footwear follows a similar test method as the SRA test described above but the test is performed on a steel floor with glycerol.
SRC graded footwear is the marking given to an item of footwear if the outsole passes both the ceramic tile test (SRA) and the steel floor test (SRB).

Safety Footwear which protects against chemicals is tested to EN 13832-2:2016

Samples are placed in contact with 2 chemicals from the following list for 23 hours without the chemical permeating through.

B - acetone, D - dichlormethane, F - toluene, G - diethylamine, H - tetrahydrofuran, I - ethyl acetate, J - n-heptane,
K - 30% sodium hydroxide, L - 95% sulphuric acid, M - 65% nitric acid, N - 99% acetic acid, O - 25% ammonia solution,
P - 30% hydrogen peroxide, Q - isopropanol, R - 13% sodium hypochlorite