In Great Britain, the Health and Safety at Work Act describes the responsibilities all employers have for their employees. It is the employer's duty to conduct risk assessments and protect the health of their staff. To reduce the chance of injuries at work, you need to ensure your staff are sufficiently protected.
Workers who work in potentially hazardous environments will more likely have to wear safety footwear to protect their feet.
As every working environment is different, there are different requirements you will need for your safety footwear. That's why we've created a list of safety features you should be aware of so you can get the best work shoes for your employees.
1) EN ISO Safety Standards
Have you heard about EN ISO 20347? What about 20345 or 20346? These digits refer to specific safety footwear standards:
EN ISO 20347 - is for occupational footwear. Occupational footwear must be anti-static, penetration resistant and have cleated soles.
EN ISO 20346 - is for protective footwear. Protective footwear must be fitted with toe caps and withstand impacts of 100K and compressions of at least 10 kilo newtons.
EN ISO 20345 - is for safety footwear. Safety footwear must be fitted with toe caps and survive impacts of 200K and compression loads of 15 kilo newtons.
It is the responsibility of the company to ensure staff are wearing the correct footwear. If employees have to buy their own work shoes, it's helpful if they know what EN ISO standard their shoes need to meet.
When looking at the safety features of different work shoes, you might only see the EN ISO Safety Standard but we've broken down the other initials and codes to help you ensure your staff are wearing the correct shoes for their job role.
2) Safety Basic (SB)
SB stands for basic safety. This means the shoe can protect the toes from a compression impact of 200 joules. If you see any other additional digits after the initials SB then this is what they mean:
S1 - antistatic protection, energy absorption in the heel and resistant to fuel oil.
S2 - has the protection of S1 and prevents water penetration.
S3 - has the safety standards of S2 and midsole penetration resistance.
S4 - has the safety standards of S1 and has a moulded polymer that makes them waterproof.
S5 - has the safety standards of S4 and midsole penetration resistance.
3) Rating for slip resistance testing
Slip resistance testing is done on the outsole grip of slip resistant shoes. Footwear that passes the test will be given a specific ranking:
SRA - the shoes were tested on ceramic tile with a cleansing agent
SRB - the shoes were tested on glycerol
SRC - the shoes were tested on SRA and SRB conditions
The slip resistance grip of shoes by Shoes For Crews Europe Ltd were tested against SRC conditions.
Here are the other abbreviations you're likely to come across when looking at footwear safety features:
4) Antistatic (A)
This means the shoes have resistance against static energy.
5) Ankle Protection (AN)
The shoes cover the ankle area which gives the foot additional protection. This is very useful for workers in active or hazardous work environments as their feet have extra protection.
6) Conductive (C)
Shoes with this safety code give the wearer additional protection from electrical hazards.
7) Cut Resistant Upper (CR)
The shoes are resistant to damage from sharp objects. Kitchen staff benefit by wearing shoes with cut resistance as they work around sharp knives and other utensils.
8) Outsole Resistance to Hot Contact (HRO)
Slip resistant shoes codes with HRO will provide resistance against hot surfaces.
9) Electricity insulating footwear (I)
These shoes are resistant to electric currents. Staff who work in high voltage workspaces need to have additional protection to stop electrical currents from reaching them.
10) Metatarsal Protection (M)
Added protection for the metatarsal region of your foot. The metatarsal is the five long bones in your foot. These bones can fracture if a heavy object is dropped on them.
11) Penetration resistance (P)
Resists force penetration. Workers on construction sites work around heavy and bulky objects so they need strong and protective shoes.
12) Water Penetration and Water Absorption Upper (WRU)
The shoes resist water entry to help keep feet dry. If your staff work outside, they will need water resistant shoes to stop their feet from getting wet.
- Learn the difference between water resistant and waterproof slip resistant shoes
There are many shoe safety features you need to be aware of to help keep your employees working safely. It's your responsibility to make sure your staff are wearing appropriate footwear with the safety features they need.
At Shoes For Crews, our safety work shoes are worn by employees in all types of industries. Visit our shop:
Discover how appropriate work shoes are better for your staff AND your budget
We compared a high street trainer with one of our most popular slip resistant shoes to find out which was the best value shoe for work. Find out what happened: