Safety Footwear Standards – What’s Changed?

Safety Footwear Standards - What's Changed?

Are you aware of the recent changes in safety footwear standards? If you work in an environment where safety footwear is required, it is important to stay informed about the latest regulations to ensure maximum protection. Safety footwear plays a crucial role in protecting workers from potential hazards in the workplace. With advancements in technology and changing workplace environments, safety standards and testing methodologies are continuously being reviewed and updated to remain relevant to the needs of workers and ensure their safety. It is important for employers and employees to understand the new requirements and how they may impact the selection and use of safety footwear. In this article, we will explore the key changes in the transition from safety standard EN ISO 20345:2011 to EN ISO 20345:2022, and what they mean for those in the workplace.

It is important to note that any safety footwear that currently has the EN ISO 20345:2011 certification will remain valid and certified until the expiry date on the certificate is reached.

Slip Resistance

One of the main changes that will affect almost all safety footwear types is the new test methods and marking of the slip resistance rating. Because slip resistance is such a fundamental feature of safety footwear, it will no longer have its own mark – instead, it is a mandatory requirement for meeting the 20345:2022 standard itself. This means that the SRA, SRB and SRC marks you may be familiar with will no longer be used.

To test for slip resistance, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (soap) is applied to ceramic tiles. The boot or shoe is then examined to detect any forepart or heel slip when walking. If this slip test cannot be applied to a specific type of footwear, for example the outsole has spikes or studs on it, then manufacturers can show this by using a ‘Ø’ symbol.

If a certain style of safety footwear performs to a particularly high level of slip resistance, then an optional additional test can be conducted. This is similar to the mandatory test, but glycerine is applied to the ceramic tile surface rather than soap. If successful, the footwear can be marked with a SR marking, showing its compliance with the more advanced testing level.

Puncture Resistance

Previously termed ‘penetration resistance’, the phrase ‘puncture resistance’ will now be used instead. There are changes to what the three markings mean. P refers to shoes with metal inserts only, tested with a 4.5mm nail with a pressure level of 1,100 Newtons. PL is for composite insoles, tested to the same requirements. PS is for composite insoles tested with a 3mm nail. The average value for the four tests completed must not be lower than 1,100 Newtons.

Fuel Oil Test

The fuel oil test is now optional, and no longer mandatory to reach the S1/S2/S3 requirements. However, in situations where exposure to fuel, oils and hydrocarbons is high, an FO rating can be applied, to show particularly good corrosion resistance. The test method to meet this specification has been extended to include testing not only on the materials touching the ground, but on all underfoot materials.

Scuff Cap

An additional requirement to this standard is the durability of the over-cap area against abrasion. To test this, the front toe area is subject to a Martindale abrasion test of 8,000 cycles. The test cannot be passed if a hole develops anywhere in this area. If passed, the symbol used is SC.

Ladder Grip

The test for ladder grip originates from firefighter footwear being designed to be suitable for use on ladder rungs. This involves the outsole of the safety shoe having a transverse profile of 1.5mm high – the minimum measurement for the cleats in the waist part of the shoe, giving the wearer good grip on ladders. The marking for this is LG.

Water Resistance

Previously, a safety shoe would pass the water resistance test if less than 3cm² of water penetration was detected. This has now changed to no water penetration detected – commonly referred to as waterproof. The marking for this is WR. An additional change in this area is the removal of the WRU marking – meaning Water Resistant Uppers.


In conclusion, safety footwear standards have evolved to ensure better protection for workers in various industries. Staying up to date with these changes is imperative to ensure every employee in your workplace is conforming to the correct PPE guidance.
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