Trust us you’ll never want to drop a sledgehammer on your little toe whilst wearing regular shoes. Get yourself a pair of safety boots to avoid this scenario. Sounds easy, however there are a few things you should know before buying a pair.
The ISO (International Standards Organisation), have put together a set of standards that all safety shoes must adhere to. These standards not only ensure that our feet are well protected when working in specific environments, they also make certain tasks easier and more comfortable for the worker. Aside from this, it’s also an employer’s legal responsibility to provide the appropriate safety footwear so that you don’t sue their pants off if you’re involved in an injury.
It is crucial that the safety footwear you select:
- Meets legal standards
- Is used correctly by the person wearing it
- Is the correct type for the task and environment
- Ensures the correct level of protection depending on the potential hazards involved to ensure maximum protection
All safety footwear, by law, has to incorporate toe protection that can withstand an impact of 200 joules. This is set out in the basic safety rating EN ISO 20345. Coincidently, this is why sandals just don’t make the grade.
The ISO have also introduced several more standards that are required for specific environments:
- S1 safety rating is antistatic, fuel oil resistant and has an energy absorption heel.
- S2 safety rating is waterproof and has absorption of the upper, plus all of the attributes of S1 (antistatic, fuel oil resistant and has an energy absorption heel)
- S3 safety rating is midsole penetration resistance plus all of the attributes of S2
- S4, just like S1, is antistatic, fuel oil resistant and has an energy absorption heel, but also features an upper with moulded polymer or rubber. This makes them waterproof.
- S5, basically S4 with penetration resistant midsole
But that’s not all! As well as the basic safety ratings there are also slip resistant ratings too. SRA shoes are slip resistant against ceramic tile coated with a diluted soap solution, SRB are slip resistant to steel with glycerol and SRC shoes are a combination of SRA and SRB. We know what you’re thinking, why have SRA and SRB when you can have SRC?
Wait, there’s more! The ISO came up with these additional safety ratings to fill in potential gaps.
- P – Penetration resistance
- C – Conductive
- A – Antistatic
- I – Electricity insulating footwear
- WR – Water Resistance
- M – Metatarsal Protection
- AN – Ankle Protection
- CR – Cut Resistant Upper
- WRU – Water Penetration and Water Absorption Upper
- HRO – Outsole Resistance to Hot Contact
So, just to recap, all safety footwear has to have an EN ISO 20345 safety rating but can also have additional safety ratings such as S1-P, which would be antistatic, fuel oil resistant, with an energy absorption heel and a penetration resistant sole.
We hope you’ve been paying attention…
Here’s a pop quiz. Describe the safety rating of this shoe: EN ISO 20345 S1P SRA HRO?
Well done, you’re right! It has toe protection that can withstand an impact of 200 joules, it’s antistatic, fuel oil resistant and has an energy absorption heel, and it’s also penetration resistant and slip resistant against ceramic tile coated with a diluted soap solution. Now that’s a shoe! Check out the Scruffs Mistral which meets this description.