Explanation of the European safety standard for work and safety boots
Certified safety boots are crucial for your protection and safety. Safety standards are covered by European law, EN ISO 20347 and EN ISO 20345, in which the minimum standards for work boots have been set down. However, it is the working environment that ultimately determines which standard and any additional features that are required to offer you the protection you deserve. That you need an EN certified boot that offers you sufficient protection is, in any case, certain. But how do you recognise a safe boot? What do all those numbers, letters and abbreviations for the certificates mean?
We have set out everything you need to know about the certification of your work boots below. Read on and find out:
A) What all those letters and numbers on your boot stand for
B) What data goes with them
C) What all those certificates protect you from
D) What additional safety standards there are
E) And what all those standards mean
If you’re not sure which safety features your work environment demands, ask your manager or a safety adviser.
A) Letter codes on your boot
If they are EN certified, you will find the certification on your boots. The overview below tells you what the various letters and symbols on Dunlop boots mean and how much protection your safety boots offer.
If you don’t have your own safety boots yet, and if you want to be certain that they meet the requirements for your work environment when you buy them, look at the table and see which letter codes your new work boots have to have.
|Work boots||Safety boots|
|EN ISO 20347
||EN ISO 20345|
|Toe protection (impact and compression)|
|SRA, SRB or SRC:||Slip resistance|
|E:||Energy absorption of the heel||O||O|
|FO:||Fuel oil resistant outsole||O
||Penetration Resistance (midsole)||O||O
|HI:||Heat Insulation Outsole||O
|HRO:||Heat Resistance Outsole||O||O
Key: Compulsory features demanded by the standard, Non-compulsory features, O Not compulsory, but optional
Before we explain what all these codes stand for, we briefly explain the table and how you should interpret it, because, please note:
- Whenever there is a tick, it is compulsory for the standard. An OB-certified boot only receives that certificate if it has a non-slip sole. It may satisfy other safety requirements, but that is reported separately.
- Also, if a safety boot is certified as ‘S5’, the letters A, E, FO and P don’t have to be stated because the boot has to satisfy them all to get the S5 certification anyway. They are all automatically included, otherwise the boot wouldn’t have got this certification. Example: A product with ‘EN ISO 20345:2011 S5 SRC’ already includes the certified safety features A, E, FO and P (see table). Only the slip resistance is stated separately because SRA, SRB or SRC are possible.
If an SB certified boot has additional safety features in accordance with the EN ISO standard, then these have to be stated separately. Example: A product with ‘EN ISO 20345:2011 SB E FO SRA’ doesn’t need to meet the E and FO standards to achieve an SB certification. If it does, the letters are stated separately. The slip resistance has to be stated separately because it could be SRA or SRC.
B+C) What’s the data behind all those letters?
The table offers an overview of the required and optional safety features of work boots. In order to give you an idea of the degree to which you are protected, we will now go deeper into the data that lies behind the letters of the certifications.
Because you now know what the different letters stand for. But what are the numbers behind them? I.e., what are the minimum requirements that have to be met in the tests in order to be awarded the certification? We have outlined it for you below.
A toe cap protects your toes if a heavy object falls on your foot.
Boots with a toe cap (of steel or composite, for example) are tested against a blow with an energy of 100 joules (EN 20346) or 200 joules (EN 20345) and a force of 15k newton.
Safety boots with a slip-proof sole must stop you from slipping.
The EN certification uses one test method for slip resistance on various surfaces:
SRA: Resistance to slipping on a ceramic floor covered with water and cleaning agent.
SRB: Resistance to slipping on a steel floor covered in glycerine.
SRC: SRA & SRB
I. When it is necessary to limit the build-up of anti-static electricity in order to limit the risk of ignition of, for example, flammable substances or gas/vapour by a spark.
II. When the risk of an electric shock from electrical equipment or parts that are ‘live’ cannot be excluded.
For more information, see the instructions from the manufacturer of your safety shoes.
Whether your boot is sufficiently shock absorbent depends on whether there is a letter E on it. The letter E stands for ‘energy absorption of the seat region’, in other words, ‘shock absorption of the heel’. A boot satisfies the EN standard if this shock absorption is at least 200 joules.
Safety boots receive the CI certification if they offer insulation against at least -17°C (+/- 2°C). These boots are often insulated against even lower temperatures; some Dunlop boots are insulated against even -50°C, but there is no separate certification for this. If a boot offers insulation against lower temperatures, it is stated in the product description.
If you work in these or similar situations, a pair of AN certified boots will protect you well. The AN certification is granted when the ankle area of the boot doesn’t let more than 10 kN of a 10-joule impact through.
D) Additional standards for specialist safety boots
As well as the EN ISO standard for certified safety boots (such as EN ISO 20347 and EN ISO 20345 described above), boots may carry indicators of additional EN standards. These standards are often for a very specific application of the boot, chemical resistance or anti-static features, for example.
We explain what these additional standards mean below:
E) EN 13832-3:2006
Chemically resistant safety boots
If a boot has the European standard EN 13832-3:2006, it is certified as a chemically-resistant safety boot. A boot only receives this certification if it is resistant to at least three of the 15 most common chemicals, i.e. that it satisfies the minimum requirements when tested. These tests are carried out in the areas of degradation and permeation.
Degradation measures the physical deterioration of the material. What happens to the material when it comes into contact with a chemical? The material might swell, or it might become harder, stiffer, more brittle or weaker. In the worst case, the material could even dissolve.
Permeation measures the time a substance needs to completely penetrate the boot material. This is called the permeation time.
The letters behind the EN standard
The chemicals the boots are resistant to, are indicated by letters printed on the boot. The boots are only classified as resistant if they pass the test requirements for both degradation and permeation, and that has to be for at least three of the letters an at most 15.
In addition to the ‘certified chemicals’, there are many chemicals for which there is data available. This means that the permeation time of the boot for those substances has been tested by official organisations, but if you work with a substance that is not indicated by a letter on the boot, the boot may still protect against it. For more information, see your distributor or the manufacturer.
If you need boots that protect you against an electrostatic discharge, choose a boot that complies with the European standard for ESD boots: EN 61340-4-3, class 2.
ESD is the abbreviation of ‘electrostatic discharge’. What does it mean? Electrostatic discharge is a physical phenomenon that we can observe at any time. ESD occurs when objects with a potential difference are brought close together. It one of these objects is a person, you get a shock.
Under normal circumstances, static electricity and ESD are only slightly irritating, and the familiar electric shock is not harmful. However, at high voltages, it becomes dangerous. We feel a shock when the voltage is above 3,000 volts; from 5,000 volts you can hear the discharge, and from 10,000 volts a spark is visible. If the voltage is high enough, the electrostatic discharge can ignite flammable mixtures or damage electronic parts. If any of these things occur in your work environment, safety boots with an additional ESD certification are recommended.
EN50321 Class 0
Electrically insulated footwear
Do you have a technical job where you work with high voltages? At an installation or telecoms company, for instance? Working on installations carrying high voltages is extremely risky. You need boots that protect you well: boots that are insulated against electricity. The European standard EN50321 Class 0 shows that boots have a high electrical resistance. They offer protection when working on installations with an alternating current (AC) up to 1,000 V or a direct current (DC) up to 1,500 V.
Certified safety boots are crucial for your protection and safety. Which boot offers you sufficient protection depends entirely on your profession and your work environment. Hopefully, you now know more about European standards. If you have a dangerous profession, make sure that you have the protection you deserve. Pay attention to the certification on your boots.
If you have any doubts about the safety aspects of your work environment, ask your manager or a safety adviser.
If you would like more information about a certain boot in order to be sure that it is adequate for your situation, get in touch with your boot manufacturer.