PPE standards set guidelines for personal protective equipment, ensuring safety and protection in various workplaces. PPE standards are periodically reviewed and updated with the objective of incorporating the most relevant information and testing methods to safeguard the wearer against workplace injuries resulting from accidents. The purpose of these updates is to ensure the standards remain current and effective in their mission of protection.

The EN ISO 20345 safety footwear standard was revised and published in 2022. This EN ISO 20345:2022 has in the most part remained unchanged from the 2011 version of the standards, there has been no change in the level of safety for any of the protective claims within it. The updated standard introduces changes in various aspects of marking, adds a few new optional protective claims and makes changes some test methods to improve the reliability of results. Ultimately, the goal of all standards is to minimize workplace injuries by making sure the wearer is as protected as possible from any injury that could occur. Please remember, all standards have limits to the protection offered and it is important to understand the limitations of use associated with the protection offered.

The purpose behind these updates is to enhance the precision of testing and provide clearer markings on safety footwear. This blog post aims to provide an easy-to-understand guide of the new changes and their potential impact on you and your organisation:

Slip resistance markings: The previous slip resistance markings (SRA, SRB, and SRC) have been replaced. Slip resistance is now considered a mandatory feature and does not carry a specific mark. An additional slip test can be conducted, indicated by an SR symbol. Certain footwear types incorporating Spikes or similar specialist features may be exempt from slip testing and these will carry the marking “Ø”.

Revised slip resistance test: The slip resistance test is now performed on a ceramic tile surface instead of a steel plate with both the SLS (soapy water) and Glycerol (oil like) lubricants. The test now includes the heel and forepart of the boot, and the flat test is no longer required.

Water resistant symbols: The previous symbol for water-resistant uppers (WRU) has been replaced with a new code, WPA, which stands for water penetration and absorption.

Scuff cap abrasion resistance test: A new test has been introduced to assess the durability of the scuff cap in protecting the toecap. If the scuff cap passes the test after 1,000 abrasion cycles, it is marked with the symbol SC.

Ladder grip test: A ladder grip assessment evaluates the suitability of footwear for ladder use. It assesses the area between the heel and forepart of the boot below the arch, based on a firefighter standard. The symbol LG indicates passing the test.

S6 and S7: Two short new cut codes have been added to the standard. S6 is a short cut code that may be used for a product currently marked S2 WR. S7 is a short cut denoting a product claiming S3 + WR.

Perforation resistance test: The term “penetration resistance” has been changed to “perforation resistance.”

If the insert is a steel plate, the markings remain the same, denoted as P.

In the case of non-metal anti-penetration inserts, commonly referred to as composite inserts or insoles, there are two test methods available. The distinction between these two methods lies in the diameter of the nail used during the test, which represents different environmental conditions.

The PL marking indicates that the footwear was tested using a 4.5mm diameter nail for general uses where there is a low/moderate likelihood of encountering nails. This method is identical to the 2011 version of the standard.

The New PS marking signifies that the footwear was tested with a 3mm diameter nail. This is a more specialist product for end uses where there is a high likelihood of encountering nails &/or where the potential for narrower nails being present If there is a likelihood of encountering sharps of below 3mm diameter then it is recommended to use steel midsoles e.g. Glassindustry, sewing needles or hypodermic needles.

Importantly, a single boot, shoe, or trainer cannot have multiple markings. It can only bear one of the markings: P, PL, or PS. The “L” and “S” marking is also carried across to the short cut codes for example S3L, S7S and so on.

When does the new standard come into effect?

The new safety footwear standards are already published and have recently been harmonized with a transition period of 18 months. During the transition period, both the EN ISO 20345:2011 and 2022 standards may be used for new certifications up to November 2024 at which point the 2011 version will be superseded. Certificates held to the 2011 standards will remain valid until their designated expiry date at which point these will be renewed to the new standards.

To find out more about safety footwear contact your local Service Centre or visit our Quality and Compliance page!