New Safety Footwear Standards

New Safety Footwear Standards

Here’s All You Need To Know About The New Standards For Safety Footwear

The safety footwear standards currently in place have been around for over a decade – so it’s definitely time for a change! However, this may result in some confusion for those of us who have known the “old way” for so long. We believe that safety shouldn’t be a mystery so that’s why we’re going to walk you through (pun intended?) the new key information and how they might affect you or your business, without any of the jargon.


The requirements a safety boot needs to meet and certain testing methods.


So that the people wearing safety boots in hazardous environments have the best chance of being protected by their footwear. This is going to be achieved by doing more precise testing and doing tests that represent real world scenarios. New materials used to make certain boot types will also be tested.


  • Changes to slip-resistance and water-resistance
  • New codes and tests in nail penetration
  • New ladder grip tests



You need to be up to speed with changes in the safety coding to support your customers who might not be aware of the latest updates. Your customers may have old standards on tender documents and product catalogues, so it’s key to have an understanding of what’s changed.


Knowing the changes in standards will be vital for specifying and requesting safety footwear from your suppliers, because you’ll need to be specific on the right level of protection. Being able to identify inaccuracies in procurement product requests also depend on you getting to know the new standards.


If you buy your own footwear, knowing the new coding will be key so you can check the level of protection of your work boot. A number of safety markings that have been familiar for years have now been either removed, modified or incorporated into new safety codes, so you need to get to know these changes as soon as possible.


New slip-resistance markings:

Old markings were SRA, SRB and SRC. These no longer exist as slip-resistance has been identified as a mandatory test for ALL safety footwear. So even you may not find a marking for slip resistance on your footwear anymore, you can be sure that they still carry this feature.

Manufacturers have the option to carry out an additional slip-resistance test, which if passed, the footwear will come with the marking SR.

With regards to the test that are done to check for slip-resistance, this test will no longer feature a steel surface and will instead be conducted on a ceramic tile surface. However, the contaminant solution will differ between the mandatory and the optional tests. The mandatory will use sodium lauryl sulphate, and the optional SR test will use glycerine.

The last change being made to the slip-resistance testing is rather than using the flat of the footwear, the heel and forepart of the footwear will be tested as these have been identified as the main parts of the boot or shoe that are most likely to slip.

New water-resistant markings:

The symbol for water-resistant uppers (WRU) has been replaced with WRA – water penetration and absorption. The test itself hasn’t changed, but the footwear will be positioned differently and the use of absorbent paper.

New requirement on scuff cap abrasion resistance:

If passed, your footwear will come the symbol SC. The test involves the footwear going through 1,000 abrasion cycles to fully test the durability of the scuff cap and to establish its capability in protecting the toe cap.

New requirement for a ladder grip test:

If passed, your footwear will come with the symbol LG and is at fire-fighter standard.
For any of our customers who have had a pair of V12 boots or shoes with an IGS or STS sole, e.g. the Bisons, then your footwear already meets this standard and has done since 2016.

New puncture resistant codes and tests:

There is now two testing methods for non-metal anti-penetration inserts (NMAPI).

  1. This involves a nail 4.5mm in diameter, and if passed, will be marked with PL.
  2. This involves a nail 3mm in diameter, and if passed, will be marked with PS.

If you work in environments that involve sewing needles, hypodermic needles etc, then your footwear should meet this standard.

Footwear that uses a steel plate insert is simply marked, as per original standards, with a P.

Manufacturers can choose which test they do, but footwear cannot be marked with both PL and PS, it will be one or the other.

Changes to ankle protection:

Regardless of the boot size, in the original test for ankle protection all boots would be tested in the same place, even though the result can differ per size. The new test allows the boot to be tested in the area of the boot that will take the most impact taking into account the size of the boot, allowing for safer, more accurate results.


At what point do the new safety standards apply?

NOW. These safety standards have already been published and all products footwear will now be tested to the new standards and will carry the new codes.

My safety footwear has only been certified to the 2011 standards. Will I have to get them retested?

NO. 2011 safety footwear is still considered “good” until the certification is due for renewal.

Can footwear be tested before its certification is up for renewal?

YES. Manufacturers don’t have to wait until their 2011 safety footwear certification expires. The standards have been published and tests can be conducted as soon as the safety footwear manufacturer wants their products to carry the new codes. There is obviously a cost associated with this, so that may be why some companies will only apply it to new products or when their current certification runs out.

How much time do I have until the old standards are officially revoked?

No official end date has been given for the 2011 standards, but because certification of these older standards are valid for 5 years before they need to be renewed, the new standards and the old standards will run side by side for several years before the old codes and requirements are revoked.

Why have the standards changed?

The safety standards have changed for a number of reasons. It is hoped that the changes will mean:

  • more precise testing and clearer marking of safety footwear
  • testing will reflect more realistic or “real world” safety conditions
  • more accurate testing to take into account new materials being used in footwear uppers
  • more choice for the manufacturer and wearer to tailor their footwear to the risks associate with their specific work environment

Most crucially, the overarching purpose of the updates and modifications in the standards is, with thorough testing and clear coding, to reduce workplace injury and continue to keep people as safe as possible at work.


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