If you or your staff are on your feet all day, or are at risk of occupational hazards, you’ll recognise the importance of having the right footwear. Good footwear not only increases comfort and reduces fatigue, it also protects feet against accidents and damage, leaving the wearer free to do their job safely and unhindered.
Safety footwear in the UK is overseen by European Standards, such as EN ISO 20345 and EN13287, which enforce manufacturers and retailers to adhere to strict quality control and clear labelling.
Whether you need antistatic, waterproof or no-slip footwear, this quick guide should help you see what you need to look out for.
Safety Footwear Reference PDFs
Handy safety footwear reference charts for your office, in both A3 and A4 sizes. Print them and pin them up on the wall.
European Standard for Safety Footwear
EN ISO 20345:2011
All safety footwear is required to meet the minimum specification laid out by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In Europe, safety footwear is governed by the EN ISO 20345:2011 standard, which was strengthed in 2011 to improve its effectiveness.
It is a minimum requirement of these standards that all safety footwear must have toe protection against a 200-joule impact. This is the equivalent of a 20kg weight falling on the toe from 10.2 metres and the footwear remaining structurally intact.
All safety footwear products must be manufactured and certified according to the requirements of EN ISO 20345:2011, and such products will be clearly marked with the appropriate labels. Existing products previously certified under older legislation must be recertified.
Beyond the minimum standard of SB (Safety Basic), there are additional variants designed for different lines of work and protection requirements. Before selecting your footwear, it's worth understanding the protection you need and the labelling you should look out for.
European Standard for Slip Resistance
In many applications, slippage will be a major hazard, so it's important to ensure that your safety footwear has been tested and certified to European Standard EN13287. Footwear meeting this standard will have been slip-tested on sodium lauryl sulfate (effectively soap and water) on ceramic tiles, glycerol on a steel floor, or both.
It's important to consider what slip protection you need for your safety footwear and to select products with the appropriate certification for your needs.
Additional Safety Features
Different safety footwear is manufactured according to specific requirements and applications, so it's important to understand what protection is on offer with each product. For example, some footwear will be heat-resistant, while another will protect against electostatic dissipation. To help you select the correct safety footwear for your needs, we label products with the properties they exhibit, which makes understanding them a lot simpler. Most footwear will have more than one of these icons, so choose items that have the protection you require.
Prevents the build-up of static electricity on your body
Resistant to extreme heat of up to 300 or 400 degrees celsius
Heat Resistant Outsole
Outsole is resistant to heat of up to 300 degrees celsius
Contains a metal structure to protect against impact
Composite impact protection for where metal is inappropriate
Electrostatic Dissipation (ESD)
Antistatic protection with guaranteed extremely low electrical resistance
Wide footwear for wide feet — go about your work in comfort
For use in slippery environments, such as those with steel or tiled flooring
Reinforced midsole for added protection
Keeps feet dry in wet working conditions
Safety footwear is usually available in either UK or European sizing, so it's worth familiarising yourself with the size you need in both standards.