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7 Best Safety Boots & Shoes in the UK for 2021

Budget
Safety Shoes Men Women Lightweight Work Steel Toe Caps Trainers Breathable (Black,7.5UK)
Value-for-Money
Dr. Martens Mens Winch Safety Toe 7 Eye Boot, UK: 11 UK, Dark Brown
The Best
Irish Setter Men's Wingshooter Safety Toe 6" Work Boot, Brown, 11 2E US
Title
Safety Shoes Men Women Lightweight Work Steel Toe Caps Trainers Breathable (Black,7.5UK)
Dr. Martens Mens Winch Safety Toe 7 Eye Boot, UK: 11 UK, Dark Brown
Irish Setter Men's Wingshooter Safety Toe 6" Work Boot, Brown, 11 2E US
Rating
-
-
Material
Synthetic
Synthetic
Leather
Insulation
Safety steel toe cap
Electrical Hazard
Price
£35.29
£163.94
£252.19
Budget
Safety Shoes Men Women Lightweight Work Steel Toe Caps Trainers Breathable (Black,7.5UK)
Title
Safety Shoes Men Women Lightweight Work Steel Toe Caps Trainers Breathable (Black,7.5UK)
Rating
Material
Synthetic
Insulation
Safety steel toe cap
Electrical Hazard
Price
£35.29
Value-for-Money
Dr. Martens Mens Winch Safety Toe 7 Eye Boot, UK: 11 UK, Dark Brown
Title
Dr. Martens Mens Winch Safety Toe 7 Eye Boot, UK: 11 UK, Dark Brown
Rating
-
Material
Synthetic
Insulation
Safety steel toe cap
Electrical Hazard
Price
£163.94
The Best
Irish Setter Men's Wingshooter Safety Toe 6" Work Boot, Brown, 11 2E US
Title
Irish Setter Men's Wingshooter Safety Toe 6" Work Boot, Brown, 11 2E US
Rating
-
Material
Leather
Insulation
Safety steel toe cap
Electrical Hazard
Price
£252.19

Table of Contents

1. DEWALT Nitrogen, Men’s Safety Boots

Introduction

Our first pick is the DEWALT Nitrogen safety boots. Good quality, highly functional and offered at a reasonable price, they will cover the needs of most workers and employees that need an elevated level of safety in their working environment.

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At a Glance

  • DeWalt Safety Footwear
  • Model Name/No: Nitrogen
  • CE Standard (Tested to EN…): EN 20345
  • Footwear Safety Code: S3 SRA
  • Men’s Steel Toe Work Boots
  • Colour: Brown
  • Outer Material: Leather
  • Closure: Slip-On
  • Toe Cap Construction: Steel Toe Cap
  • Shoe Fitting: Wide Fit (UK Size System)
  • Shoe Width: Medium
  • Heel Loops for Easy Pull-On
  • Oil-Repellent Sole – Oil and Slip Resistant
  • With a Pro Comfort Insole
  • Safety Rating: S3 SRA
  • 200J Steel Toe Cap
  • Steel Penetration – Resistant Midsole
  • Wide Fit
  • Not Tested for Sole Heat Resistance
  • Water-Resistant Upper
  • Anti-Static Sole
  • Shock-Absorbing Sole
  • Reinforced Heel
  • Clothing Pattern: Solid
  • Footwear Water Resistance: Water-Resistant Upper
  • Manufacturer Guarantee: 1 Year Guarantee

Design & Characteristics

DeWalt Nitrogen comes with an S3 SRA footwear Safety Code. This means that they feature much more than the basic safety features: aside from Mid-Sole for Penetration Resistance, Resistance to Water Penetration and Absorption, they have anti-static properties and fully enclosed energy absorbing heel area, they have antistatic protection (protecting the user from static charge or electricity built up that could cause a spark and a shock, which is usually small but could startle the worker and cause an accident).

They also feature an Oil-Repellent Sole and an Energy Absorption in the heel region, protecting the worker from injuring his tendon and heel, as well as a cleated outsole.

The SRA standard means that they were successfully tested on ceramic tile wetted with a dilute soap solution.

Of course, never rely just on our description for the properties of the DEWALT Nitrogen! Read carefully the description given by the manufacturer to verify whether they are suitable for your line of work!

Nitrogen come with steel toe caps, which offer excellent protection (sustaining up to 200 Joules) yet make them a bit heavy (around 800 grams each). If you prefer a lighter model or suffer from a medical condition (like arthritis) that could worsen with so much weight at your feet, better opt for another model.

The materials used are great. Smooth leather, with a Slip-On closure and a Pro Comfort Insole, they are easy to put on and take off, but they might prove a bit too warm during the summer.

Pros
  • Good material quality
  • Functional
  • Well-designed
  • Easy and quick to put on
  • Removable insoles
Cons
  • A bit heavy
  • May feel a bit warm during the summer

Our Opinion

DEWALT Nitrogen safety boots combine good material quality, functionality and an excellent price. They are a bit heavy, though, so if, for some reason use prefer a lighter model, check out one of our next picks.

2. JACKSHIBO Safety Shoes – Men Work Trainers – The Budget Choice

Introduction

Hardly a safety boot, this one, we thought of including it in our list for workers that would prefer a much lighter, considerably less expensive yet reliable option.

The Jackshibo Safety Shoes could easily be mistaken for sneakers, but come with a steel toe cap, boast a sleek design and a rather breathable material, making them an excellent choice for people working in less dangerous environments.

Budget Safety Shoes / Trainers
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At a Glance

  • Safety Trainers Men Women
  • Steel Toe Cap Work Shoes Lightweight Industrial Protective Shoes
  • Work shoes with steel toe cap
  • Made of European standard steel cap, can withstand piercing 200J
  • Breathable safety shoes
  • Moisture-wicking, braided mesh that provides airflow and breathability and won’t cause foot odour
  • Work shoes with Kevlar sole
  • Excellent performance, anti-piercing, protects against sharp things on the floor, so that they do not penetrate the sole
  • Lightweight and comfortable safety shoes
  • Work shoes can be folded freely and the perfect design provides more foot protection for ergonomics. Lightweight and comfortable safety shoes
  • Rubber soles, non-slip safety shoes
  • The sole of our work shoes is made of wear-resistant rubber and has the special non-slip folds, is characterised by excellent durability, grip and slip resistance, can withstand heavy work
  • Anti-static insulation
  • Provides you with extra protection from dangers in the workplace
  • Multi-purpose sports work shoes
  • Sporty safety shoes impress with their sporty design and their sophisticated features
  • It can be used for hiking, hiking, outdoor use, construction, work, outdoor sports etc.

Design & Characteristics

Designed to combine a breathable design, a comfortable feel, and some basic safety features for construction work and outdoor ventures (like hiking and outdoor work etc.), the Jackshibo Safety Shoes will keep your feet dry and relaxed during our ventures. They surely catch the eye with their sporty, fashionable design and sophisticated features. Although, if you are on the market for running shoes this pair isn’t for  you.

Please remember, though, that these are not heavy-duty safety shoes. Their synthetic upper is made of a breathable and comfortable mesh upper, while the point resistant sole is made of Kevlar for decent protection yet small weight. Note that Kevlar is heat resistant, acid and alkali resistant and tear-resistant.

As to the interior, Jackshibo comes with steel toe caps, protecting the feet from puncture injuries that could be caused by sharp objects, like nails and steel poles. The EU standard steel cap can withstand the impact energy of up to 200j and an impact pressure of up to 15000N, protects your toes from being crushed by a heavy object.

Its synthetic inner material adds comfort and keeps the feet pleasantly warm without sweating.

Closing with laces and with a heel height of one inch, they can be easily put on or off because of their elastic.

If you look for the safest sneakers in the world, you have probably found them. Still, they are not designed for professional workers, and certainly not for heavy-duty work.

Pros
  • Breathable, flexible material
  • Functional
  • Fashionable design, they can be easily worn for a casual walk
  • Easy and quick to put on
  • Steel toe caps
  • Reasonable price
Cons
  • Not designed for heavy-duty work
  • Not for professionals

Our Opinion

To be sure, the Jackshibo Safety Shoes are not safety boots, but a cost-effective, stylish option for workers that need something lighter, breathable, flexible yet capable of protecting them from the usual dangers of a working environment.

3. Caterpillar Footwear Men’s Holton Work Boots

Introduction

Caterpillar needs no introduction. Being on the most reliable and famed safety shoe brands, it offers only top-notch quality models – offered of course at reasonable (yet not exactly cheap) prices.

This pair of safety boots is no exception. Hard-wearing and designed for heavy-duty work professionals, it will protect efficiently your feet from injury and yourself from accidents.

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At a Glance

  • Caterpillar Holton safety boots, style Number 7040, Black Leather Goodyear Welted
  • Manufactured to European Standard EN ISO 20345, Rating Standard SB
  • Exceeds the requirements of ISO EN 20345: SB FO HRO SRC
  • Safety Features Basic safety protection 200 joule
  • Heat resistant outsole up to 300 degrees C
  • Slip Resistance Rating SRA – Outsole Slip Resistance BS EN ISO 20344:2004/A1:2007 (5.18)
  • Tested on Ceramic Tile/Sodium Lauryl – Heel part 0.28; Flat Contact 0.32
  • The CATERPILLAR CATHOLTBK11 Holton Black Leather Goodyear Welted Safety Boots are size:
  • UK 11 Euro 46
  • Goodyear welted construction with and EN approved steel toe cap and rubber outsole which is heat oil and slip-resistant
  • Full-grain leather upper with a moisture-wicking textile lining throughout
  • Insole: moisture-wicking and removable Poliyou – anti-bacterial and our resistant
  • Outsole: T742, of all rubber construction and is welted to the upper using the Goodyear welting process
  • Outer Material: Leather
  • Inner Material: Mesh
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Heel Type: Flat
  • Material Composition: Leather
  • Shaft Diameter: Adjustable
  • Shoe Width: Normal

Design & Characteristics

Caterpillar Holton safety boots 7040, offer much more than the basic safety protection of the 200-Joule impact. Equipped with a heat resistant outsole capable of withstanding temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius and boasting an SRA heat oil and slip resistance rating, as well as with an EN approved steel toe cap, they are designed for heavy-duty work and professionals.

Combining a full-grain leather upper with a moisture-wicking textile lining. The moisture-wicking and removable Poliyou insole has anti-bacterial qualities, while the T742 outsole (made of equally durable rubber) is welted to the upper with the famed Goodyear welting process.

The exterior leather is as durable as it gets, while the mesh inside allows some air to circulate, keeping the feet fresh even after hours of work. Note, though, that it could take a few days for the back of the boots to soften up. So, at first, wear them in a way that would alleviate the pressure in the back, to avoid cut heels.

Tue, the Lace-Up closure does not make them easy to put on and off, but they provide a rather secure fit – of the essence during heavy-duty work.

Pros
  • Reliable brand
  • Top material quality
  • Durable, excellent construction
  • Heavy-duty design
  • Firm yet comfortable fit
  • Heat resistance up to 300 Degree Celsius
  • An excellent pick for professionals
Cons
  • They require some days before the back softens up
  • Not so easy to put on and off

Our Opinion

Caterpillar safety boots are always reliable and famed for their top construction and material quality. The Holton safety boots stay true to the brand’s standards, offering excellent protection to professional heavy-duty workers that are willing to pay a bit more to ensure their safety and lower the risk of an accident in their working environment.

4. Dr Martens Men’s Winch Safety Toe 7 Eye Boot – Value-for-Money Safety Boots

Introduction

Another pick for a well-trusted, world-known brand, Dr Martens’ safety boots promise to protect your feet both from exhaustion and work-related dangers.

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At a Glance

  • Additional insulation helps protect against accidental contact with an electric charge
  • Safety steel toe cap
  • Outer Material: Leather
  • Sole: Synthetic
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Heel Type: No Heel
  • Shoe Width: Medium adult_uk
  • Slip-resistant sole reduces the risk of falls on hazardous surfaces
  • SAFETY SPEC: ASTM F2413-11 MI/75 C/75 EH
  • Slip Resistant ASTM F1677-2005

Design & Characteristics

To be sure, Dr Marten’s safety boots are among the most fashionable and elegant pairs we have tried on. Featuring a no-heel design, Dr Marten’s safety boots are an equally good pick for workers that do not want to spend too much on their safety boots.

Their lace-up closure ensures a firm fit around the foot, and while they are a bit heavy, they are certainly comfortable to wear even after many hours of heavy-duty work. Equipped with a standard steel toe cap, a synthetic, durable rubber sole and a leather exterior, the have additional insulation against accidental contact with electric charges.

Contrary to most safety boots of these, size, standards, and price range, they feel rather comfortable, with their flexible sole and comfortable insole. The leather material needs a few days to stretch, but you will soon love them for their tight yet comfy fit.

Note this one though: while slip-resistant, these safety boots do not perform well on snow or ice. While indoors, even in slippery surfaces, they attach firmly to the ground, outdoors, in low temperatures on ice or snow have not proven stable. So, be aware.

Pros
  • Reliable brand
  • Good material quality
  • Durable
  • Heavy-duty design
  • Firm yet comfortable fit
Cons
  • Not designed for snow or ice!
  • A bit heavy

Our Opinion

Dr Martens’ safety boots may not perform too well on ice or snow, but otherwise, they are a great option for construction workers that need a pair of comfortable yet durable safety boots.

5. Bekina Steplitexs5, Men’s STEPLITE X Full Safety S5

Introduction

Bekina Steplitexs5 is a pair of safety boots designed mainly for farmers and agriculture. Still, do not be fooled by its seemingly flimsy all-plastic exterior. They are made to last even the harshest conditions, especially in muddy and wet working environments.

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At a Glance

  • Robust Steplite X work boot with large shaft has been specially developed for agriculture
  • Manufactured with patented NEOTANE technology
  • The boots with safety level S5 are equipped with a steel cap and steel sole – for perfect protection when working midst of animals and heavy or cutting equipment of all kinds
  • Outer Material: Synthetic
  • Inner Material: Unlined
  • Sole: Synthetic
  • Closure: Slip-On
  • Heel Height: 3 centimetres
  • Shoe Width: Medium
  • Offering excellent grip on slippery surfaces and insulates thermally up to -30 °C
  • With each pair of boots, you get free moisture-absorbing insoles, for dry feet
  • Farmers Weekly, Britain’s leading magazine in the agricultural sector, has named The Steplite X the best work boot at the moment.

Design & Characteristics

Designed mainly for farmers that need to keep their feet dry and safe to a considerable height, the Steplite X safety boots are much more than water-resistant goloshes. This is probably why Farmers Weekly, Britain’s leading magazine in the agricultural sector, named the Steplite X as the best work boot for 2020.

Manufactured with patented NEOTANE technology, they boast an S5 safety level (among the highest in the market) and are equipped with a steel cap plus steel sole, offering amazing protection when working midst of animals and heavy or cutting equipment of all kinds. Of course, this design takes its toll on the overall weight of the boot, but the degree of protection is one of the highest we have seen.

Note though that the interior of the boot has no lining, which is probably one of the main reasons behind its surprisingly affordable price (considering its level of safety rating). The 3-cm heel, combined with the synthetic exterior will keep your feet dry even under heavy rainfall and muddy terrain. According to the manufacturer, it will keep your feet thermally insulated even to temperatures as low as -30 °C.

One of its winning traits is its excellent grip on slippery surfaces, as well as the free moisture-absorbing insoles you get with each pair. Easy to put and take off, even with thick wool socks, it is by far the best option of our list for farmers and agriculture workers.

Pros
  • Ideal for farmers and agriculture workers
  • Robust construction, large shaft
  • Patented Neotane technology
  • Certified S5 safety rating
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Excellent grip on slippery surfaces
  • High thermal insulation
Cons
  • Inner Material: Unlined

Our Opinion

Designed for professionals of the agricultural sector, Bekina Steplitexs5 certain hits the nail on the head, combining all those features that would make it an ideal pair of safety boots for farmers that wish to keep their feet safe and dry during hard work and adverse elements.

6. Purofort Thermo Wellington Safety Boots Insulated

Introduction

Purofort Thermo Wellington Safety boots have been around almost unaltered for several years because they need no upgrades. Excellent material, thoughtful design (obviously by people who know the hardships of agriculture and construction work), offered at a great price.

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At a Glance

  • Thermo+ Wellington from the Purofort® range of Dunlop’s Safety Footwear
  • Purofort Safety
  • 100% Waterproof
  • Main material: Flexible Upper – For ease of movement
  • Fastening: Slip-On
  • Resistant against low temperatures with heat-retaining sole and insulation, keeping workers safe from cold exposure
  • Lightweight and durable with steel toe cap protection offering best safety practice
  • Waterproof with antistatic technology and energy absorbing heel, keeping workers safe from open circuits
  • ISO20345 tested – Conforms to ISO20345 Safety Footwear Standard
  • S5 Full Safety
  • Waterproof Polymer Upper plus Antistatic and Energy Absorbing Heel
  • Insulation against cold: Insulating down to -40°C
    Temperature resistant – Resistant to temperatures down to –40°c. Essential for cold storage operations
  • Resistance – Resistant to minerals, animal and vegetable oils and fats, blood, manure, disinfectants and various chemicals and solvents
  • C662
  • Antistatic
  • Energy absorbent

Design & Characteristics

Don’t be misled by its appearance; Purofort Thermo Wellington Safety boots seem as if they are designed for farmers –which is true- yet they are equally efficient for construction workers too, who are often forced to work in severely cold weather.

Fully waterproof and conforming with the strict the ISO20345 requirements and boasting an S5 safety rating, they feature the standard steel toe cap, as well as antistatic technology and an energy absorbing heel, keeping workers safe from open circuits.

Resistance – Resistant to minerals, animal and vegetable oils and fats, blood, manure, disinfectants and various chemicals and solvents

Their slip-on fastening makes them easy to put on and take off, even with a pair of thick socks, they will keep your feet protected and snug throughout your hard work. True, they are not the most elegant pair of safety boots of our list, but we scarcely think elegance and style is your first priority while working in a muddy field or plastering the exterior of a building in cold weather. Its nominal insulation level protects your feet against temperatures as low as -40°C – making it also ideal for workers in cold storage facilities.

Robust and well-designed (from a safety point of view), they are a bit heavy and hefty, but they fit well and will surely keep your feet dry and tolerably warm under freezing conditions, thanks to its heat-retaining sole and insulation.

On the downside, they lack an elastic top, which means they are a bit easy to stick in the mud.

Pros
  • Ideal for both farmers and construction workers
  • Excellent construction
  • Certified S5 safety rating
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • High thermal insulation
  • Reasonable price
Cons
  • No elastic at the top, easy to stick in the mud

Our Opinion

A fantastic pick for agriculture and construction workers, as well as anyone working outdoors, the Purofort Thermo Wellington Safety boots, are not so stylish or good looking, but they sure keep your feet both safe and dry throughout the day, no matter the weather.

7. Irish Setter Men’s Wingshooter ST-83632 Work Boot -The Best Safety Boots

Introduction

Hand’s down one of the most elegant yet robust safety boots in the market, Irish Setter Wingshooter work boots are not exactly cheap, but it is certainly one of the best picks for professionals (especially construction workers) that wish to keep their feet safe in style.

The Best Safety Boots in the UK
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At a Glance

  • Irish Setter Men’s Wingshooter ST-83632 Work Boot
  • ASTM Standard: ASTM F2413-18, M/I/C, EH
  • UltraDry Waterproof: UltraDry™ construction combines a moisture management lining with waterproof components for dry, long-lasting comfort and performance
  • HRO: Soles that have been designed and tested to perform on high heat surfaces. Soles identified as HRO are heat resistant to melting at a minimum of 475º Fahrenheit
  • Electrical Hazard
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Shoe Width: D(M) mens_us
  • Non-Metallic Safety Toe
  • Rubber-EVA Traction Tred
  • Heat Resistant Sole
  • Leather Type: Full Grain, Waterproof
  • Height: 6-inch
  • Waterproof: UltraDry™ Waterproofing System
  • Construction: Goodyear Leather Welt
  • Footbed: Removable Polyurethane
  • Outsole: Rubber-EVA Traction Tred
  • Country of Origin: Made in Vietnam

Design & Characteristics

As already mentioned, the ST-83632 Work Boots quickly catch the eye with their stylish design and rustic colouring. Still, they have much more to offer than an elegant touch to your work gear.

Their top-notch leather (Goodyear leather welt) and patented ultra-dry construction combine a moisture management lining with waterproof components for dry, long-lasting comfort and performance. Indeed, this description has not proven an empty boast.

The prime-quality HRO soles have been designed and tested to perform on high heat surfaces, with a measured resistance to melting at a minimum of 246 oC. With protection against electrical hazard and a non-metallic yet equally robust safety toe, they provide a good grip over slippery surfaces. On the other hand, some have found them a bit bulky and heavy.

As all safety boots with lace-up closure, they are not so easy to put on and take off, but their support is excellent.

Pros
  • Reliable brand
  • Top leather quality
  • Durable, excellent construction
  • Heavy-duty design
  • Firm yet comfortable fit
  • HRO soles
  • Heat Resistant Sole
Cons
  • Not exactly cheap
  • A bit bulky and heavy

Our Opinion

Irish Setter Wingshooter work boots combine a beautiful design, excellent safety features and prime-quality leather exterior. If you can afford them, they are an excellent pick for outdoors hard work.

Safety Boots Buying Guide

Personal protective equipment has been a rather sensitive issue during the last decades. Civil suits and thousands of dreadful accidents have forced the legislators in most countries to oblige employers to purchase and supply PPE to their employees.

Still, with such a vast array of PPE manufacturers out there, it is difficult for conscientious employers to always pick the proper or right PPE for their staff, and easy for irresponsible employers to buy improper or cheap PPE that meets the legal criteria but scarcely protect the workers. In addition to that, there are several freelancers, construction workers, electricians, farmers, who need to buy protection equipment to keep themselves safe at work.

Safety boots are one of the most important pieces of PPE. This small appendix is designed to help learn some basic things about them and make the ideal pick for your line of work. Several accounts need to be taken into consideration before deciding, and make sure to check the specifications recommended by the local authorities or other qualified agencies before even starting your research – especially if you need to buy equipment for your staff.

So, let’s start with the basic.

What are safety boots?

Safety boots, also known as “safety footwear,” are shoes with certain features designed to protect the feet against specific dangers common in working environments, such crushing from heavy weights, electrocution, punctures from sharp or pointed objects, absorption of elements, or exposure to extreme heat or cold.

Most safety boots are designed for specific working environments, while others are designed for certain professions. Hence, safety boots have various levels of protection.

What should I consider when choosing safety boots?

Use the following as a checklist:

  • Are they designed for my profession or working environment?
  • Are they made from the proper material?
  • Are they designed for indoor or outdoor use?
  • What are their operational temperature limits?
  • Do these safety boots meet legal standards?
  • Most PPE for specific professions must meet certain criteria, like the EN ISO 20345 Check the iso for your industry and see if the specs of the safety boots you are interested in complying with it.

What types of safety footwear are there?

Safety footwear can be categorised in several different ways, depending on their style, working environment or protective features. The basic type, though, is considered the following (alphabetically):

  • Clogs: traditionally made from beech wood and occasionally fitted with steel toe-caps and thin rubber soles, clogs are among the cheapest types of safety footwear.
  • Safety boots: by far the most common type of safety footwear, safety boots always come with protective toe-caps, combined with several other safety features, like slip-resistant soles, penetration-resistant mid-soles, and insulation against extreme temperatures. Safety boots come in different shapes and types, but they always cover the lower calf.
  • Safety shoes: are more or less safety boots that barely go though beyond the ankle. Some of them are ‘metal-free’ to reduce weight and improve comfort, but offer much less protection. Still, there may be a composite toe cap, that provides some level of protection.
  • Safety trainers: a type of safety shoes, usually metal-free and more elegant and stylish.
  • Wellingtons: a type of safety shoe designed for work in wet conditions. They are easy to wash, thus ideal for professionals that require a high level of hygiene in their work.

What types of safety boots are there?

Again, safety boots can be further subdivided into several categories. A well-known type of safety boots is the Rigger boots (known also as Riggers), pull-on safety boots used mainly by oil rigs personnel – whence their name. Unfortunately, most of them lack ankle support.

What levels of protection do safety boots offer?  

The manufacturer is obliged by law to clearly state the level of protection offered by a pair of safety boots. All safety boots meet certain European quality standards (referred to as EN ISO), which ensure that they have been tested in accord with the standards’ requirements and possess certain necessary properties. The safety features of footwear are tested according to a set of European test standards written into EN ISO 20344:2004 (revised by ISO 20344:2011).

Most manufacturers state in the specs the EN ISO of their safety boots. Of course, to be of use to you, you must understand their meaning. Check the following list:

EN ISO 20345:2004: it specifies a standard of 200 joules impact resistance (equivalent to a 20kg weight dropped 1020mm onto the toes), and a 15KN compression test (equivalent to 1.5 tonnes resting on the toe area).

EN ISO 20346:2004: specifies a lesser standard of 100 joules impact resistance, and a 10KN compression test.

EN ISO 20347:2004: it usually denotes several features of safety and/or protective footwear save the safety toecap.

EN ISO 20345:2011: this one is with whom all safety boots produced after June 2013 must comply. The relevant standard to which the footwear conforms will be identified on the footwear together with the level of protection provided. The greatest protection possible is denoted by the EN ISO 20345:2011.

Naturally, these standards cover basic safety features. More specialised protective features concerning specific risks of certain professions or working environments (chain saw injuries, chemicals, molten metal splash, and protection for motorcycle riders) are covered by complementary job-related standards.

Another way to check the level of protection offered by a safety boot is its rating. Protection level ratings are used to simplify things for the buyer that has specific requirements. Most of them begin with an S for 200 Joule toe caps or a P for 100 Joule toe caps. combined with other codes or pictograms that symbolise certain additional properties, such as water or penetration resistance, conductive, anti-static, insulated against extreme temperatures, energy-absorbing etc.

The protection level ratings most commonly used are the following:

SB – Safety basic, 200 joules Toe Protection, Oil Resistant outer sole

SB is considered the absolute minimum in terms of protection. An SB safety boot is able to withstand a 200-joule impact – more than enough for any heavy object falling from a low height on your foot. It also means that it is able to withstand more than 1000kg of resting mass (not falling).

Note that Metal-Free SB toe caps are as strong as the metal ones. The only difference is that they are lighter. In addition to that, metal-free safety boots are necessary for workers that pass frequently through metal-detectors (e.g. in airports). Otherwise, they would need to remove them again and again.

SBP – Safety Basic, Heat Resistance Outsole plus Penetration Resistance

Penetration resistance (P) is achieved by midsole protection (be it a stainless-steel plate, an aluminium or a Kevlar insert), which stops any sharp object, like a nail, from penetrating the foot. An SBP safety boot can resist a penetration force of 1100N.

Aluminium and Kevlar inserts are considered superior quality choices, being more flexible and significantly lighter, while Kevlar also provides a considerably higher thermal insulation. Note that midsole penetration protection is a standard feature to S1-P, S3, and S5 safety boots.

HRO (Heat Resistant Outsole) comes as standard with levels SB, S1, S2, and S3.

S1 – Safety Basic plus Anti-Static properties and fully enclosed Energy Absorbing heel area

Antistatic protection (A) protects the user from static charge or electricity built up that could cause a spark and a shock, which is usually small but could startle the worker and cause an accident. It comes as standard with levels S1, S2, and S3.

Note, though, that Antistatic safety boots do not offer full protection for exposure to electronics and explosives work. Such a level of safety requires Electro-Static Protection (ESD).

Energy Absorption (E) in the heel region can protect the worker from injuring his tendon and heel. It also comes as standard with levels S1, S2, and S3.

S1P – S1 plus Mid-Sole for Penetration Resistance

S2 – S1 plus Resistance to Water Penetration and Absorption

S3 – S2 plus Mid-Sole for Penetration Resistance and Cleated Outsole

S4 – 200 joules Toe Protection, Anti-Static Properties, Energy Absorbing Heel Area

S5 – As S4 plus Mid-Sole for Penetration Resistance and Cleated Outsole

Keep also in mind the following ratings:

WRU – Water Resistant Upper

Safety boots made of waterproof rubber or polymer construction.

HRO – Heat Resistant

Safety boots with heat resistant outsole, able to resist 300°C for 60 seconds.

CI – Insulation against Cold

Safety boots capable of insulating the foot against temperatures of 1 -20°C for 30 minutes.

HI – Insulation against Heat

Safety boots capable of insulating the foot against temperatures of 150°C for 30 minutes.

ESD – Electro-Static Discharge  

ESD safety boots, as already mentioned, is specially designed for those working in electronics and with explosives, and they meet the ESD CEI EN 61340-5-1 standard.

Note that Slip Resistance is a basic requirement for all safety boots. Still, check whether the specs of a safety boot mentions it specifically, or whether the boots have been tested. If so, the coefficient of friction (CoF) test values must be available. The higher the CoF, the better the slip resistance.

Bear also in mind that some safety boots could have even more features. What we have mentioned are just the most common, as well as the minimum requirements guarantee by these specific safety ratings.

Impact Rating

The impact rating states the number of pounds of an impact the safety boots are able to protect you against in case of an accident. For the UK, the number is usually given in pounds, in an I/x type. For example, an I/100 impact rated safety boot can withstand an impact of 100 pounds.

Note that the minimum is I/50.

Compression Rating

The compression rating denotes the number of loads the safety boots can withstand before cracking or breaking and is given in an I/x type. A C/50 guards against compressive loads of up to 1,750 pounds.

Other European Safety Test Standards

There is another set of European test standards (included in the EN ISO 20344:2011) that are used to assess the safety features of safety boots. The following codes indicate that the safety boots have been tested and meet the specified requirements:

SRA – tested on ceramic tile wetted with a dilute soap solution.

SRB – tested on smooth steel with glycerol.

SRC – tested under both the above conditions.

CE marking

Make sure that your safety boots are ‘CE’ marked, which signifies that they meet certain basic safety requirements and are certified by an independent body.

How should I select safety boots?

Step 1: Assess the Risks

First, assess the possible dangers and risks of your profession. Think about your working environments and conditions. Ask yourself:

  • Is there a risk of falling objects? Could objects injure just the toes or the whole foot?
  • Is there a risk of sharp objects penetrating my foot? Is there a need for cut protection?
  • Will I ever work on slippery surfaces?
  • Is there a risk of twisting or spraining the ankle?
  • Will I work with dangerous chemicals?
  • Will I ever be exposed to extreme temperatures?
  • Are there biohazard risks such as in healthcare settings?

These are just indicative, of course. You can probably think of several other questions.

Still, it would be a gross mistake to just rely on your personal experience regarding this matter. Check for information, maybe refer to your union, and surely check any laws and directives from state and local authorities for requirements. Ask your colleagues to share their experience and insights, especially older, seasoned ones.

Most industries have certain requirements when it comes to safety gear, including footwear. For example,

  • farmers surely need waterproof safety boots with protective toe caps, penetration protection, as well as anti-static and anti-slip sole;
  • construction workers require a minimum 200-joule toe cap and penetration protection;
  • welders need safety boots with secure top for preventing hot material falling onto feet, as well as quick-release buckles;
  • chainsaw operators require a pair equipped with protective guarding to the front, toe cap and midsole protection;
  • storage facilities personnel need safety boots with a protective toe cap, an anti-static and anti-slip sole, as well as chemical resistance.

Step 2: Comfort

Never forget that safety boots are shoes, not just a piece of gear. You will have to wear them for many hours during work and the last thing you want is for them to be uncomfortable. Besides, all safety regulations stress the point that gear or clothing that frustrate or annoy the user raise considerably the risk of a mistake or an accident.

The best thing would be to try them on before buying them, but you can bypass this requirement by taking a gander on the feedback by people that have already bought them.

Step 3: Material & Good fit

Naturally, the materials used for the boot must be considered, for they will determine their durability, usability, and comfort. Most safety boots are made of some type of leather or Gore-Tex. combined with nylon mesh and other materials. Make sure to check the material used for the toe cap.

A pair of safety boots that do not fit well can cause an accident or even sores or injuries to the feet (bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes etc.).

To ensure a good fit, check the following characteristics:

  • First of all, check the fastenings. Be it laces, buckles or Velcro, they must secure the foot inside the shoe, allowing only the toes to mode.
  • Both the upper and the lining should be made of breathable materials to keep the feet fresh.
  • The toe area should be deep enough to prevent rubbing and allow the toes to move – especially if there is a toe cap. A good fit means that you do not feel the toe cap.
  • It would be nice if the insole could be removed and allow the insertion of padding or orthoses.
  • The heel must have a large base and never be higher than 1.6 inches. A height of 0.8 inches is considered by many as the most comfortable one.
  • The sole should combine two characteristics, durability and flexibility.

Step 4: Cost

Safety boots are among those items whose overall value is directly linked to their price. Never expect a cheap pair of safety boots to last long or provide the best possible protection. Both of these features cost.

Whether a pair of safety boots is indeed worthy of its price tag depends on the respectability and reliability of the brand. A quick look at the reviews and feedback of buyers always proves very helpful in this regard.

Remember that a reliable and trustworthy brand will always provide instructions for use (in English and clear and legible text), and carry a CE marking, in the correct font and at least 5mm high. The brand will also provide a way to communicate any questions or complaints.

Step 5: Consider your Personal Circumstances  

Last but not least, you must consider certain personal needs or circumstances, such as anatomical peculiarities and health issues.

For example, there are safety boots or safety shoes designed precisely for people suffering from diabetes. It is easier for a person suffering from diabetes to develop ulcers or other foot injuries due to poorly fitting shoes. In addition to that, they often experience numbness and loss of sensation in their feet, making it even more vital for them to wear safety boots that ensure excellent protection for their work and a secure, yet comfortable fit.

Hence, shoes designed for people suffering from diabetes are made from breathable leather or suede materials. They are designed to cushion and protect from foot injuries associated with diabetes, and afford ankle, arch, and heel support, while evenly distributing body weight across the foot, thus avoiding aching pressure points. Diabetic work shoes can also provide the extra depth necessary to accommodate custom-orthotics that alleviate or even prevent foot pain and make the feel much more comfortable.

Wide feet, aside for wide fittings, require specific safety features, such as steel or composite toe caps. Another critical health issue could be arthritis. In such cases, you must make sure that the safety boots you pick are comfortable. Feet suffering from arthritis tend to change their shape over the years, altering both their size and width.

Safety boots for people suffering from arthritis usually come with leather uppers and rather flexible soles. Just make sure to ask your doctor for a recommendation. In some cases of arthritis, hard-soled safety boots are recommended.

People with hammertoes or prominent joints should opt for models with smooth lining without seams, with special insoles or orthoses. Make sure that the fit is spacious and comfortable enough especially around the toes.

A similar condition is plantar fasciitis, i. e. injury to the tissue surrounding the muscle and nerves on the bottom of the feet. Heel spurs, that is deposits of calcium (often painful) on the underside of the heel, can be a great source of pain or discomfort. Obesity could also stress certain areas of the feet, especially for workers that need to stand for many hours. In all these cases, the key lies in the cushioning, as well as the ability of the boot to take extra inserts or custom-made orthotics.