The Ultimate Safety Footwear Guide

Navigate around the safety footwear guide using the links below:

What are safety boots?

Safety footwear is meticulously tested to ensure that they comply with EN ISO 20345 as a minimum safety standard for safety footwear. Safety boots have additional safety features, including steel toe-caps, anti-penetration midsoles, and slip-resistant sole units.

Dickies Safety Footwear

What are safety boots used for?

Safety boots are used to help protect the feet of people who work in all industries, reducing the severity of injuries that may occur in the workplace.

Why wear safety boots?

Wearing safety footwear is essential to ensure safe and healthy feet. Steel toe boots and shoes protect your feet, help prevent injuries to them, and reduce the severity of injuries that may occur in the workplace.

How are safety boots made?

Safety boots feature protective reinforcement at the front to make them more durable. This helps to protect feet from falling objects and unintended compression. Safety boots are usually installed with a sole plate in the main sole to prevent against punctures that may come from beneath.

What is PU?

Polyurethane is a combination of Polyols & Isocyanates. When mixed during the moulding process, a chemical reaction occurs, and the Isocyanates cause the Polyols to expand and fill the sole mould.

What is EVA?

Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate is an elastic copolymer similar to rubber used in many industrial applications. EVA is formed by expanding plastic and trapping pockets of air in various densities. It resists cracking and hardening and offers good cushioning and rebound qualities. EVA is UV resistant and stays flexible at low temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor footwear.

What is EN ISO?

When an international standard (ISO) is adopted by the European Union it becomes EN ISO.

What is EN ISO 20345:2011?

Footwear which is classified as "safety footwear" is tested to the EN ISO 20345:2011 standard in Europe.

What is EN ISO 9001:2015?

EN ISO 9001:2015 is the international standard for a quality management system. The standard is used by companies to demonstrate their ability to provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements, demonstrating continual improvement.

Which safety boots are the best?

The best type of safety boots provide protection to your feet while being comfortable, durable and lightweight - such as the Dickies Canton Safety Boot.

best safety boots

How do steel toe boots protect you?

Steel toe boots feature a steel reinforcement in the toe that protects feet from falling objects and compression, they typically feature a mid-sole plate for protection against punctures from beneath. Steel toe boots meet or exceed EN ISO 20345 safety standards and provide protection against impacts of at least 200 joules and 15 kN in compression force.

How do steel toe boots work?

Steel toe boots feature a steel reinforcement in the toe that protects feet from falling objects and compression, they typically feature a mid-sole plate for protection against punctures from beneath. Steel toe boots meet or exceed EN ISO 20345 safety standards and provide protection against impacts of at least 200 joules and 15 kN in compression force.

Why wear safety shoes in a warehouse?

It is essential to wear safety shoes when working inside a warehouse as there are multiple potential hazards - such as heavy objects which could fall onto your feet and sharp items such as nails on the floor that could penetrate regular footwear, causing damage to your feet.

What is the standard for safety shoes?

EN ISO 20345:2011 is the standard for safety footwear across Europe. All safety footwear must have toe protection against a 200-joule impact.

What are the lightest safety boots?

Composite toe safety boots are much lighter than steel alternatives and therefore a great choice for high-performance workers who are looking for boots which aren't heavy.

How much weight can a steel toe boot withstand?

A steel toe boot can withstand impacts of at least 200 joules and 15 kN in compression force.

What is composite toe safety shoes?

Composite toe boots are made from non-metal materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or carbon fiber. Just like steel-toe caps, to meet European Safety Standards, they must offer at least 200 joules of protection.

Composite Toe-Cap Shoes

Types of safety boots

Wearing the correct safety footwear is essential when doing work that requires safety from hazards. Protecting your feet by wearing safety boots can prevent injuries that may arise, creating a safer working environment.

Here are the different types of safety footwear:

Safety-toe boots

Safety-toe boots are safety footwear that feature either a steel-toe cap made from steel or a composite toe made from non-metal materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or carbon fiber. To meet European Safety Standards, safety-toe boots must offer 200 joules of protection.

Steel insole shoes

Safety footwear which contains steel insoles prevent punctures from sharp objects through the bottom of the footwear which could cause the wearer serious harm.

Metal Instep footwear

A metal instep provides protection by reinforcing safety footwear with an additional metal layer, preventing workplace injuries due to heavy falling objects and sharp nails which could penetrate footwear.

Metatarsal boots

Metatarsal safety boots are similar to composite and steel toe boots but also include a protective plate that covers the metatarsal part of the foot. They offer protection to the upper area of the foot between the bottom of the shin and toes.

Electrical hazard footwear

Electric hazard boots reduce the potential risk of the wearer receiving an electric shock when exposed to high voltage circuits and electricity.

Safety Footwear Abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning


Penetration Resistance






Electricity Insulating Footwear


Energy Absorption


Heat Insulation of Sole


Cold Insulation


Water Resistant


Metatarsal Protection


Ankle Protection


Cut Resistant Upper


Water Penetration & Water Absorption Upper


Heat Resistant Outsole


Resistance to Fuel Oil

How to lace work boots?

Step 1. Select a boot lace

  • Measure your current boot laces that you are replacing if you plan to buy new laces.

Step 2. Start to lace the boot

  • Start with one end of your laces and run it diagonally through the inside of the next eyelet. For the second pair of eyelets closest to the bottom, you will lace the same way you did for the criss-cross lacing. Repeat with the other end of your laces.

Step 3. Insert laces vertically through the next eyelet

  • Thread lace through the eyelet directly above.

Step 4. Carry on the diagonal lacing method until the top is reached

  • Alternate threading your laces diagonally and over the top vertically.

Step 5. Tie laces, tuckings ends into boot

  • It's important to tuck the laces inside of your boots to avoid tripping over them in the workplace.

Lacing up Dickies work boot

How to choose safety shoes?

Step 1. Check the safety shoes standards & regulations

  • It’s important to check the safety shoe standards & regulations for the specific profession that you work in to ensure that the safety shoes that you buy are fit for purpose.

Step 2. Try on multiple pairs of safety shoes

  • Make sure you try on safety shoes before you buy them, as sizes can vary between each style of safety shoe.
  • As feet tend to swell throughout the day you should try on safety shoes at the end of a working day, so that your feet will be a more realistic size.

Step 3. Simulate work-like movements

  • Recreate working conditions such as simulating work-like movements when trying on safety shoes, as this will be the most realistic movements you will make on a daily basis - any discomfort is a sign of an ill-fit.
  • Wear work socks when trying on safety shoes, as your work socks may be thicker than your standard socks.

What is SRA?

Safety footwear with SRA certification has met slip resistance requirements when tested on ceramic tile flooring with sodium lauryl sulphate solution.

What is SRB?

Safety footwear with SRB certification has met slip resistance requirements when tested on a steel surface with glycerol.

What is SRC?

SRC certification is a combination of SRA and SRB certification. Therefore SRC safety footwear offers the highest slip resistance protection.

What is SB?

The SB rating is the basic level requirement for standards within safety footwear. EN ISO 20345 SB products will provide toe protection for an impact of at least 200 joules and 15kN compression force. 

What is SBP?

SBP meets the same standard as SB however features additional protection against upward penetration provided by a composite or steel midsole in the safety footwear.

Safety Rating Meanings

Rating Meaning
SB Safety Basic
SBP As SB with Mid-Sole Penetration Protection
S1 Anti-static, Oil-Resistant and Energy Absorption
S1P As S1 with Mid-Sole Penetration Protection
S2 Prevents Water Penetration
S3 Midsole Penetration Resistance
S4 Leak-Proof
S5 Leak-Proof with Midsole Penetration Resistance

What are S1 safety boots?

Safety footwear with an S1 rating offers a higher level of performance than SB (standard basic) footwear. S1 safety footwear still includes toe-cap protection, but also includes a closed, energy absorbing, seat region, anti-static properties and resistance to fuel and oil. All Dickies S1 rated boots and shoes are rigorously tested in accordance to EN ISO 20345 regulations.

What are S2 safety boots?

S2 safety boots include all the safety features of S1 safety boots, but also protect against water penetration and are absorption resistance.

What are S3 safety boots?

Safety boots with an S3 safety rating include all the benefits of an EN ISO 20345 S1 rated product, with the addition of a cleated outsole & penetration resistance. These products will have toe-cap protection, anti-static properties, an energy-absorbing closed seat region and resistance to fuel & oil.

What are S4 safety boots?

S4 safety boots include all the safety features of S1 safety boots, but are made from polymer or rubber which makes them waterproof and leak-proof.

What are S5 safety boots?

S5 rated safety footwear include all the safety features of both SB & S4 safety ratings, but with the addition of both penetration resistance & a cleated outsole. This standard ensures SB toe-cap protection, anti-static properties, resistance to fuel and oil, an energy absorbing closed seat region and an upper which is all rubber or polymeric.

S3 Safety Footwear

How to wear safety boots?

  • Measure your feet beforehand to ensure that you buy the correct size safety boots.
  • Choose safety footwear with the correct protection for the work that you will be doing.
  • Wear work socks when wearing safety boots, which fit your feet well.
  • Keep your feet and socks dry to avoid discomfort.
  • Boot insoles should be firmly placed inside the boots, ensuring that it stays in the same position once your foot has entered the boot.
  • Move your toes and heel around your boot so that your feet can get used to the fit.
  • Tie your boot laces, but not too tight as this could cut off blood circulation.
  • Tuck the laces inside of your boots to avoid tripping over them in the workplace.

How work boots should fit

When wearing work boots there should always be around 1 inch of space in front of your toes, with your heel being firmly in place and not rubbing against the back of the boot. If your feet feel pressure which causes you discomfort we recommend trying on a larger size.

How to stretch work boots?

The water trick: Place a tied-up bag of water inside your boots and stick them in the freezer until the water freezes (usually after a few hours). Then simply remove them from the freezer, take out the bags and wear. You can repeat this process a couple of times until they've stretched enough for you.

How to dry work boots?

Place your work boots on top of a towel and under a fan, the moisture will be drawn out of the boots and into the towel.

Can work boots cause back pain?

If you aren’t wearing the correct footwear whilst you are on your feet for long hours then you will be putting strain on your feet and joints, which create misalignment and pressure on your lower back. Wearing comfortable work boots which have arch support and a shock-absorbing sole will help prevent back pain.

What are the most comfortable safety shoes?

The most comfortable work boots feature a memory foam insole, arch support, shock-absorbent midsole and are lightweight. The Dickies Caspian Fur Lined Boot features mock fur lining for additional comfort.

comfortable safety boots

Can work boots cause knee pain?

People with musculoskeletal disorders such as plantar fasciitis often experience knee injuries, due to wearing work boots which provide inadequate sole or heel support.

How long do work boots last / when to replace safety shoes?

There is no official length of time for how long safety boots should last or when to replace your safety footwear, however shoes and boots often show significant signs of wear after six months to one year of daily wear.

When should safety footwear be inspected?

Safety footwear should be inspected every time they are being worn, to look for any damage such as holes, dirt and buckles. When not being worn safety footwear should be cleaned and stored in a clean, dry space.

How to make work boots more comfortable?

To make work boots more comfortable, wear work socks with your boots and avoid wearing thin socks. You should get a certain amount of cushioning from your work socks to ensure a comfortable fit.

What does EN ISO mean?

When an international standard (ISO) is adopted by the European Union, therefore becoming EN ISO.

Can work boots be used for hiking?

Work boots can be used for hiking, however it's important to remember that not all work boots are created the same, and some will leave your feet sore if you primarily use them as your hiking footwear.

Can you claim VAT on safety boots?

Safety boots are currently VAT exempt in the UK.

How much are safety boots?

Safety boots range in cost depending on their features and materials. Dickies safety boots start at the price of £25.

Where to buy safety shoes?

You can buy safety footwear including boots and shoes from Dickies Workwear online or from one of our nearest stockists.

Safety Boot Size Chart

UK Size European Size
3 36
4 37
5 38
6 40
7 41
8 42
9 43
10 44
11 45
12 47
13 48
14 49