Sue Ferguson
Chiropodist and Podiatrist in Tenterden, Kent
LOCATION: Home | Topic of the Month | Safety Boots and Shoes Registered with the Health and Care Professions Council
Registration No. CH16194

Special Topic

Safety Boots and Shoes
Regulations and Standards
[Work boots, Protective footwear, Safety trainers, Riggers, Safety Wellingtons]


An employer is responsible for making a judgement (risk assessment) about any hazards an employee will be subjected to and if necessary supplying safety footwear free of charge to protect an employee's feet. An employee has a duty to wear the protective footwear. [EC Directive 89/656/EEC].

Some employees prefer to purchase a different brand or more expensive boot than the employer standard regulation issue. Some employers will pay for the employee preferred boot and some will only give the employee an allowance towards the cost. Employers are under no obligation to pay for the whole cost of an alternative boot. Any alternative boot must confirm to the standard required by the employer.

If you have a medical condition and the employer supplied boots are not suitable for you, you will more than likely have to provide written proof for your employer, for example a doctor's note. [The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations state that an employer must take account of the health of the person wearing the PPE]


The old European standard EN345 for protective footwear has now been replaced by EN ISO 20345:2004 (see notes on 20346:2004, 20347:2004). The new standard excludes footwear for firefighters, footwear with chain saw protection, slip resistant footwear, and anti ESD footwear which have their own special standards, EN15090:2006, EN ISO 17249:2004, EN ISO 13287:2007 and EN61340 respectively.


Safety work boots are VAT free if certain conditions are met (manufactured to appropriate EU or BS standard, have mark indicating conformity to standard, purchased for industrial use and purchased by the individual worker themselves). Safety shoes on the other hand are not VAT free [HMRC Reference:Notice 701/23 (March 2002)]

BS EN ISO 20345:2004

There are several categories within ISO 20345:2004 (latest version ISO 20345:2004/Amd 1:2007 which has further defined the slip resistance categories, 2009 in draft form at present). There are also additional features which can be added to the basic level of safety boot, such as resistance to water, oil or chemicals, and midsole penetration protection.

ISO 20345:2004
Classification 1
Made from leather and other material (but not all rubber or all polymeric). The higher the S value the higher the safety levels and the safety requirements.
SB Safety Basic - the basic requirement for safety boots. The boots must have a steel toe cap and be able to withstand an impact of 200 Joules and compression of 15000 Newtons
S1 SB + S1. Safety basic plus closed and energy absorbing seat (fully enclosed heel), and antistatic properties
S2 SB + S1 + S2. The above plus resistance to water penetration and absorption. Suitable for moist areas.
S3 SB + S1 + S2 + S3. The above plus penetration resistance and cleated sole.
Codes - Special combinations
SB-P SB + P. Safety basic plus pierce resistant midsole
S1-P S1 + P. S1 plus pierce resistant midsole
Classification 2
Made from all rubber or all polymeric types (example wellington boots)
SB Safety Basic (as above)
S4 SB + S4. Safety basic plus energy absorbing seat (heel) and antistatic
S5 SB + S4 + S5. The above plus pierce resistance and cleated sole.
Additional Protection Properties for EN ISO 20345:2004
A Antistatic footwear
AN Ankle protection
C Conductive
CI Insulation against cold
CR Cut resistant upper
E Energy absorbing heel
HI Insulation against heat
HRO Outsole resistance to hot contact
I Electrical insulation
M Metatarsal protection
P Penetration resistance
WR Whole footwear resistant to water penetration / absorption
WRU Water resistant uppers only
Slip resistance rating
SRA On ceramic tiled surface wetted with dilute soap solution
SRB On smooth steel with glycerol
SRC SRA + SRB (i.e. both these conditions)

It is important that safety footwear is comfortable, durable and protects the employee, however some compromises are sometimes necessary within certain safety boundaries.


Contact Sue Ferguson
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Tel: 01580 765546
Basic Safety Boot Requirements [SB]
  • Safety toe cap impact 200 joules. Equivalent to dropping a weight of 20 tonnes from a height of 1 metre.
  • Compression protection of 15 KN - equivalent to 1.5 tonne weight resting on the toe box area.
  • Upper material is of a particular quality and thick enough to provide a level of abrasion resistance.
  • The sole has been tested for heat resistance, oil and certain chemical resistance, shock absorption and abrasion.
Mandatory Sign - Safety Boots must be worn
Logo - Safety Boots Compulsory
What is a cleated sole?

A cleated sole is a sole of a shoe or boot with projecting pieces of metal, rubber or other material. It is designed to increase traction and prevent the wearer from losing their footing.

Types of Shoes and Boots
Type A Low shoe
Type B Ankle boot
Type C Mid height boot
Type D High boot
Type E Femoral height boot
Standards - Notes

Safety Footwear
EN ISO 20345:2004
Basic Safety requirement, "S" ratings

Protective Footwear
EN ISO 20346:2004
Basic safety requirement but toe cap requirement is lower - 100 Joules. "P" ratings given.

PB Basic requirement for protective footwear
P1 PB plus closed heel, energy absorbing heel and antistatic
and following on with P2 - P5 similar to the "S" ratings

Occupational Footwear
EN ISO 20347:2004
Basic safety requirement with anti static and/or slip resistant properties. This standard does not require a protective toe cap. "O" ratings given.

OB Basic requirement for occupational footwear
O1 OB plus oil resistant sole, closed heel and antistatic
and following on with O2 - O5 similar to the "S" ratings
FO Sole resistance to fuel

Electrical insulating Footwear
EN 50321:2000
As well adhering to EN 20345, 20346 or 20347 there are further classifications for working on low voltage installations

00 Installations up to 500V ac and 750V dc
0 Installations up to 1000V ac and 750 dc

Slip Resistance
EN 13287:2007
Specifies the test method for slip resistance of safety, protective and occupational footwear. It is not relevant to footwear with spikes or metal studs.

ESD Footwear
Electrostatic Discharge / Dissipation Footwear
EN 61340

Specialist Boots

Firefighting Boots
EN 15090:2006 with different levels (F1-F3) according to the type of fire, and certain additional features such as heat insulation, penetration resistance, electrical insulation, antistatic, ankle protection and chemical resistance. [New draft in progress EN 15090:2009]

Footwear and gaiters for use in molten metal foundries [Foundry Boots]
BS 4676:2005
Type 1 footwear - protection against mechanical hazards and against molten metal when worn with gaiters Type 2 footwear - protection against mechanical hazards and against molten metal when worn without gaiters

Forestry Boots - Chainsaw Resistant Boots
EN ISO 17249:2004
Multi layer chainsaw protection. Four protection levels from 1 (chain speed up to 20 m/s) to 4 (chain speed up to 34 m/s). Sole with pattern suitable for terrain for sure footing

Sue Ferguson
BSc (Hons), MRCPod
Chiropodist and Podiatrist

2 St Benets Court
Kent TN30 6QS
Tel: 01580 765546