Originally published on 19th December 2018
Updated 27 November 2019


EN ISO 20345 Explained - Safety Footwear Standard



Protecting feet against hazards in the workplace by providing appropriate safety boots is key to keeping workers safe. The safety footwear you choose for your employees should meet legal standards and be appropriate for the task, the individual and the environment in which they are working. It must also be used and cared for correctly by those wearing them. Employers are legally responsible for providing the correct footwear as part of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

We understand that it can be confusing to decide which safety shoes are suitable for your workers, so we’ve put together this guide to explain the most important safety footwear standard.


What is EN ISO 20345?

The full name of the EN ISO 20345 specification is EN ISO 20345:2011 Personal Protective Equipment – Safety Footwear which is the standard all styles of “safety footwear” are tested against. It was formerly referred to as EN345, but this was replaced by EN ISO 20345:2004. EN ISO 20345:2007 was the next revision, followed by EN ISO 20345:2011, which is the current version of this standard. This will be superseded by ISO/WD 20345 in due course. Currently, it is still in development.
The EN ISO 20345:2011 standard sets more stringent minimum requirements than previous versions. It specifies that ALL safety footwear must have toe protection, and sets a standard of 200-joules impact-resistance (equivalent to a 20kg weight dropped 1,020mm onto the toes) and a 15KN compression test (equivalent to 1.5 tonnes resting on the toe area).
All safety footwear manufactured after the 31st July 2013 must meet this standard. However, this doesn’t mean that footwear made before that date is now of no use, only that those produced after this date will need to meet the new stricter standard.


Assessing the Risks 

Before selecting safety footwear for your workers, you should refer to a recent risk assessment of the workplace, or carry one out if it doesn’t already exist. The results of this assessment will indicate which hazards you need to protect your workers against, allowing you to choose the most suitable EN ISO 20345 rated safety shoes or safety boots.
Hazards that may arise as part of your risk assessment may include:
  • Wet conditions
  • Electrostatic build-up
  • Slipping, cuts and punctures
  • Falling objects
  • Metal and chemical splash
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Outdoor or indoor use
It’s also a good idea to ask your workers what they think are hazards, as they may notice dangers from their daily work that are not immediately obvious to you. Do they need waterproof safety boots? Would breathable safety footwear make their work easier?
The 2017/18 HSE (Health and Safety Executive) slips and trips statistics show that slips, trips and falls on the same level account for 31% of all non-fatal injuries at work. Non-slip safety footwear plays a crucial role in protecting workers from potentially dangerous surfaces. The HSE has created a handy checklist on identifying slip and trip hazards in the workplace to help you address the potential risks. Anti-slip boots and shoes are a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of slips and trips, but it’s always important to check the slip-resistance ratings of footwear before you make your purchase. Safety footwear manufacturers display these on their products.


EN ISO 20345 Safety Ratings Explained

Once tested and certified, safety footwear manufacturers stamp EN ISO 20345 footwear products with this standard and the CE mark. Products will be marked with a simple two or three letter code, which defines the basic safety features of that particular product. For products tested to 200-joules impact resistance (EN ISO 20345), this code will begin with S, while for products tested for 100-joules toe caps (EN ISO 20346), it will begin with P. Additional properties may be indicated by further codes or pictograms.
The table below outlines the features that each rating under EN ISO 20345 holds:
Safety footwear made from leather and other materials (not rubber/polymeric)
All-rubber or all-polymeric (waterproof wellingtons)
200 joules toe cap
Closed seat region (fully enclosed heel)
Energy absorption at seat area
Antistatic properties
Water penetration & absorption resistance
Penetration resistant midsole
Cleated outsole
EN ISO 20345 footwear range


EN ISO 20345 Slip Resistance Ratings Explained

SRA: Tested on ceramic tile with sodium lauryl sulphate (a diluted soap solution)
SRB: Tested on steel with glycerol
SRC: Tested under SRA and SRB conditions


EN ISO 20345 Additional Ratings Explained

C - Conductive
A - Antistatic
I - Insulation against electricity
HI - Insulation against heat
CI - Insulation against cold
E - Energy absorbing seat region
AN - Ankle protection
HRO - Heat resistant outsole
WR - Water resistant
WRU - Water resistant upper
M - Metatarsal protection
CR - Cut resistant upper


What Features Should You Look for in Safety Footwear?

Toe protection (SB)
We all know that the toes are a very vulnerable part of the body — and even more so at work, where there are a number of hazards that could lead to a foot injury. At its most basic level, the EN ISO 20345 standard requires that toe protection must be able to withstand a 200-joule impact. Toe protection includes steel toe caps or lighter alternatives, such as composite or aluminium toe caps.
Antistatic protection (A, S1, S1P, S2, S3)
Clothing and climate factors can cause a buildup of static electricity in the body. Some materials used in the construction of safety footwear can over-insulate the body, causing the static charge to be held. When a worker touches something conductive, this charge can rush from the body quickly, causing a spark and a small uncomfortable shock. Anti-static footwear significantly reduces this effect.
Midsole penetration protection (SBP, S1P, S3, S5)
Sharp objects can be a significant hazard at work. Midsole protection can guard against nails and other sharp protrusions that could otherwise lead to disastrous consequences. In order to meet the requirements of the EN ISO 20345 standard, footwear midsoles must be able to resist a penetration force of 1100N. Midsole protection can be provided in one of two ways: a stainless steel or aluminium insert in the sole, or a Kevlar insole.
Energy absorption (E, S1, S1P, S2, S3)
This refers to energy absorption in the heel region.
Water resistance (WR, WRU, S2, S3)
Footwear may be classified as water resistant in general (WR), or they may have a water-resistant upper (WRU).
Heat resistance (HRO)
Heat-resistant footwear features an outsole which must be able to resist 300°C for 60 seconds.
Insulation against cold and heat (CI, HI)
For resistance against cold, EN ISO 20345 footwear is tested for 30 minutes at 1-20°C. For resistance against heat, footwear is tested for 30 minutes at 150°C.
If footwear provides adequate protection but is causing your workers harm or discomfort, they will be reluctant to wear them. Make sure you provide safety footwear that fits correctly from the start; contrary to popular belief, there should be no need to “break in” footwear. You can further increase comfort by providing employees with insole inserts and high-quality work socks. It’s a good idea to allow workers to try products first to see if they are comfortable and suitable for their task and work environment — after all, they will have to wear them all day!


Maintaining Compliance with EN ISO 20345

All safety footwear must be properly looked after and stored when not in use in a dry, clean cupboard. They should be examined before and after use to ensure they’re in good working order, which should be carried out by trained staff members.
Employers can ask employees to clean their own safety footwear but it should be stipulated in the person’s contract of employment. If you do require workers to clean their own shoes, you would need to provide clear cleaning instructions to avoid any confusion.
An effective safety footwear maintenance system should include:
  • Checking for faults, damage, dirt, wear and tear
  • Testing to ensure they’re performing as intended
  • Cleaning regularly to avoid build-up of dirt (referring to manufacturer’s instructions)
  • If there is damage, repair where possible
  • Where they are damaged beyond repair they will no longer comply with the standard and should be replaced
For more guidance on taking care of work clothing and personal protective equipment, check out our article on extending the life of workwear and PPE.


Providing your workers with appropriate safety footwear is essential to ensure you remain compliant with current regulations. Employees who are provided with the necessary clothing and PPE to stay safe and comfortable at work will be more dedicated, motivated and productive. Involve workers in the selection of appropriate footwear, choose with care and ensure that you select the correct rating, size and features for whoever will be wearing them. Finally, consider their daily tasks, environment and personal comfort preferences.


Our range of EN ISO 20345 compliant safety footwear includes waterproof and breathable safety boots, non-slip safety footwear, safety shoes, heavy duty work boots, safety wellingtons and many more styles. Take a look and upgrade your safety footwear today!


Guidance for EN ISO 20345