New safety footwear standards

30 May 2023

From slip resistance to liquid tightness and ladder grip to the abrasion resistance of a toe cap, the standards for safety footwear were revised and expanded in 2022. What is the reason behind this norm revision, and what are the fundamental changes and additions? Johan Pertijs, Sales Engineer Footwear and representative of Lyreco Netherlands B.V. as a member of the NEN Standardization Committee for Foot and Leg Protection, shed light on this complex matter.

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Traditional tests

The current work and safety footwear standards, such as EN-ISO 20344, 20345, 20346, and 20347, date back to 2011. “The testing methods were somewhat outdated compared to product developments and the emergence of new materials in the market,” Johan explains. “The methods were still based on traditional materials like a steel midsole and safety toe cap, while many shoes now have, for example, a Kevlar midsole. The penetration resistance tests were no longer always sufficient.” Additionally, ergonomics and comfort also play an increasingly significant role. When you wear those shoes for eight hours a day, you want them to fit well. A standard product is not always the best solution for many people. Previously, there was little attention to the standards for orthopedic insoles. They must be compliant and suitable for your type of shoe. The new standards now address this concern.”

Ladder grip, impermeable outsole, and toe cap

The significant difference from the old standards is the addition of symbols and letters that provide a more accurate shoe classification. This allows for selecting safety footwear that aligns even better with the wearer’s specific work type and associated risks. “However, it hasn’t become simpler,” Johan admits. “To give an example, shoes with an impermeable sole are classified as S3. In the future, the letters L or S will be added to indicate whether the shoe has a non-metal midsole. The added letters indicate to what extent the shoe has been tested according to the new, more stringent method (S) or based on the comparable ‘old’ standard (L).”

Another addition is the letter combination LG, which stands for ‘Ladder Grip.’ These shoes provide an extra level of safety, particularly for window cleaners, technicians, and anyone working on a ladder. The ladder grip significantly reduces the chance of slipping on ladder rungs. Whereas these shoes already existed, no testing method or separate classification existed. Now there is. The same goes for shoes with a protective or scuff toe cap. They receive the addition SC when the ‘Scuff Cap’ meets the minimum thickness and abrasion resistance.

Dry feet

New classifications S6 and S7 indicate the water resistance of the shoe. There were already classifications for liquid tightness, but they only applied to the material and not the entire shoe. “People sometimes believed they had liquid-tight shoes, but when they were actually standing in water, their feet would get wet. With an S2/S3 safety shoe, only the material is tested to achieve the S2 or S3 classification, not the entire shoe. With the added classifications S6(S2) or S7(S3), a large part of the entire shoe is tested

Norms EN ISO 20345:2022

SBSafety toe cap protection only, tested with 200 J impact and 15 KN compression force
ANAnkle protection
HISole insolation against heat
CISole insolation against cold
EEnergy absorption in the heel area
FOHydrocarbons resistance
LGGripping systems for released heel, ladder grip
MMetatarsal protection
WRWater resistance throughout the shoe
WPAWater resistance for upper materials
CConductive shoes   
SRSlip resistance
PLPuncture resistance (4.5mm)
PSPuncture resistance (3.5mm)
PPuncture resistance (Metal insert type P)
SCScuff cap abrasion
HROHeat resistance outsole
S1SB + A + E
S1PS1 + P
S2S1 + WPA
S3S2 + P
S3LS2 + PL
S3SS2 + PS
S6S2 + WR
S7S3 + WR


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