Safety Boots: A Complete Buyers Guide

What are safety boots?

Safety boots, also referred to as steel toe-capped boots, are designed to protect your feet from any injuries that can occur in the workplace. Safety boots incorporate a number of safety features including protective toe-caps, insulation against extreme temperatures, and penetration-resistant midsoles.

Grisport Safety Boots

What are safety boots used for?

Safety boots are used in working environments that involve manual labour or working with heavy machinery, to help reduce the severity of workplace injuries. 

Safety shoes can also prevent fatigue in the work environment. Standing up all day, especially on hard surfaces can be a real problem. The muscles in the feet can become tired, and this situation will only get worse without appropriate footwear. Most safety footwear now will have arch support and cushioning, still will alleviate strain on the muscles. Preventing muscle strain can also help to prevent musculoskeletal disorders such as chronic lower back pain, too.

Why wear safety boots?

Safety boots are an imperative form of footwear that help to ensure a safe working environment. They help protect the feet from falling objects, provide puncture protection, electrical hazard protection, cutting hazards prevention, and more! Safety boots typically have the below features to help prevent from injuries:

Steel toe-cap
This feature protects your toes from being crushed by falling, very heavy objects or materials, such as concrete, metal or wood. Steel toe-cap boots also prevent accidental damage from objects unintentionally falling.

Steel midsole
This protects the sole of your foot in the event that you step on something sharp such as nail or even broken glass. Much like a steel top-cap, steel midsoles are an essential feature in protecting your feet from all potential on-ground or unintentional hazards.

The risk of slipping or falling in a work environment can be increased depending on the conditions.  There are many different factors that could result in a slippery surface – spilled liquids, a burst water pipe, polished floors or even just rain! Having a pair of safety boots with slip-proof grips is essential to prevent the risk of falling.

Having comfortable footwear at work, when you are on your feet for the majority of the day is so important. It would be pointless to have a pair of work safety boots that protected your feet, but were not comfortable enough to wear. Safety boots with ankle support is one of the best features to add comfort to your safety boots, as well as preventing injuries.

Types of safety boots

There are a number of different types of safety boots, all suitable for different working environments and the varying hazards that are present:

  • Steel toe footwear – protect toes from falling objects and from being crushed.
  • Metatarsal footwear – offer protection to the upper area of the foot between the bottom of the shin and toes.
  • Reinforced sole – protects the foot from punctures.
  • Latex or rubber footwear – resists chemicals and provides extra traction on slippery surfaces.

Selecting safety boots for your business

When deciding which safety boots are best for your business there are several factors that you need to consider. Before selecting safety boots for your business you should refer to a recent, existing risk assessment for the workplace. This could include wet conditions, falling objects, or electrostatic build-up.

You should ensure that the safety boots:

  • Meet legal standards
  • Are the correct type for the task/worker/environment
  • Are used correctly by all staff wearing them

Safety Boot Rating System Explained

Each safety aspect has its own code, and to make it easier for you we have decrypted the codes to help you work out which you need for your line of work. It is easy to understand as each boot will have a rating feature which then can have additional features added to it depending how high quality the boot is.

Safety Footwear Abbreviations and Codes

A – Antistatic footwear
C – Cut resistance of upper
CI – Cold insulation of sole complex
E – Energy absorption of heel region
FO – Resistance to fuel oil of outside
HI – Heat insulation of sole complex
HRO – Resistance to hot contact of outsole
M – Metatarsal protection
P – Penetration resistance
WR – Water resistance
WRU – Water resistance upper

SB (Safety Basic)
This is the most basic safety boot; these boots have a toe protection against 200-joule impact. Most boots have additional features added to them, and this will be shown with extra codes added.

In addition to the 200 joule toe protection toe cap, it is resistant to fuel oil outside and it is also energy absorption in the heel area.

S2 has all the features of S1 with the addition of water resistance upper. It also has the added feature of a SB with the 200 joule toe protection.

S3 boots have the 200 joule toe cap with the added features of an S2 boot, however with the addition of penetration resistance. This can be either a stainless steel or aluminium insert in the sole or by keviar sole. 

This type of boot has the same properties as S1, yet with the addition of a fully waterproof boot.

This is the best type of basic rating you can get; any other feature will be added onto this rating. It is the same as the S4 boot, with the addition of penetration resistance. This can be either a stainless steel or aluminium insert in the sole or by keviar sole.


Legislation in recent years has meant that PEE (including safety boots) is provided by the employer at no cost to the worker. 

The Regulations also require that PPE is:

  • Properly assessed before use to make sure it is fit for purpose
  • Maintained and stored properly
  • Provided with instructions on how to use it safely
  • Used correctly by employees.

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