Safety boots safety rating guide

Feeling a bit confused about the various safety ratings given out with work boots?

Unsure what all the standards are, and mean?

I don’t know about you but up until I actually got into the low-down about safety boots, I had no idea myself.  I’d look at the box to see if they had a steel toe and check reviews to see if they were comfy or not.

That was about it, top and bottom.

That was “my research”… and I’m sure many of you would do something quite similar.

Anyway, safety boots have all these different symbols and ratings written on them, to help you pick the right boots.

Some people need airport scanner safe boots, some need waterproof boots, some need antistatic and others need protection from sharp objects under the foot.

So I am going to explain what they all mean and hope you can use this to get the right boots.

Sure there is no point in you getting thermal waterproof rocket powered boots if all you are doing is walking across a factory floor  (although rocket powered could be interesting…!).

200 joules crush protection

You will read on many other websites about toe caps needing to withstand 200 joules of impact.

But what on earth does that mean?

In essence it’s a 20kg weight dropped from a height of just over 1 metre.

Now for the eye opening facts.

  • If it’s a nice square shaped weight it could still “possibly” bruise your toes a bit but your bones should be safe.
  • If it’s a pointed weight coming down then you may also suffer flesh wounds, but your bones should be safe.

So please don’t think you will walk away from a toe crush incident with snuggly warm toes.  There is always the chance of minor flesh wounds and pain.

The video below will help you understand the effect of weight falling onto a safety boot toe cap area:

Kind of puts things into perspective a bit doesn’t it?

In addition to a 200 joule test, safety footwear have to be able to protect toes from a 1.5 tonne weight compression test (that means a weight of 1,5 tonnes resting on top of the toe area).

So let’s jump in to what they all this stuff means, and learn about the safety code ratings.

It all starts with the governments’ requirements for having safety P.P.E. at work.

They produced legislation about it in 1992 which you can read here. It’s called “The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992”

Following on from these set of rules, a standard was created for safety boots called EN345.  Further changes were made in 2004 and 2007, and the current version is called EN ISO 20345:2011 (although a new version is currently being produced but not yet published).

So for now all safety “footwear” produced from the year 2013 (not just boots) have to meet this tough standard.

What goes into this standard?


Safety footwear codes


  • This rating is for safety footwear with a toe cap resistant to an impact of 200 Joules.  Can be Steel or Composite.




Feature all of the above “SB” basic needs for a boot, plus the following:

  • The boots feature a closed heel area for all round protection.
  • Energy absorption at seat area for all day comfort
  • Antistatic properties useful for electrical work
  • Resistance to fuel and oil slips


S1P (Penetration)

Featuring all of “S1”, plus:

  • The boots feature penetration resistance to prevent sharp objects from entering inside the boot.



Featuring all of “S1”, plus:

  • Water penetration and absorption


(A good standard of boot safety to aim for)

Featuring all of “S2”, plus:

  • Penetration resistance
  • Cleated outsole for extra grip and traction in unstable situations.


Featuring all of “S1”, plus:

  • A totally waterproof moulded upper that enables them to be 100% waterproof.  (Safety wellies for example).


Featuring all of “S4”, plus:

  • Midsole penetration resistance – The perfect outdoor or wet weather boot for peace of mind.

Slip resistance ratings:

Safety boots that comply with slip resistance ratings will also have one of the following codes:


  • Tested on ceramic tile wetted with sodium lauryl sulphate (a diluted soap solution)


  • Tested on steel with glycerol

SRC (both of the above)

  • Boots that perform well on both SRA and SRB conditions

As you can see from the above, boots really do have to pass a number of tests to be deemed good enough.

Additional symbols you may come across

  • WRU – Water Penetration and Water Absorption Upper
  • AN – Ankle Protection
  • CR – Cut Resistant Upper
  • A – Antistatic
  • I – Electricity insulating footwear
  • HRO – Outsole Resistance to Hot Contact
  • P – Penetration resistance
  • C – Conductive
  • M – Metatarsal Protection
  • WR – Water Resistance

For our full write up on some of the best safety boots currently available you can look at our boot guide here.

If you prefer a boot with a side zip we also have that covered in our guide here.

If you have wider feet, we have a great guide to the best workboots for wide feet.

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