How to Choose the RIGHT Safety Shoes – A Complete Guide

We do not go to a building site, factory or in some warehouses without being properly protected, so does our physical integrity. The feet are a particularly sensitive part of the body and should be given special attention, which is why it is necessary to choose correctly the safety shoes that will accompany us to our workplace. 

It will thus be necessary to ask some questions, whether on the need of mobility, the type of dangers incurred, or the climatic conditions, and to choose safety shoes corresponding to the appropriate standards.

How to choose safety shoes

How to select the right safety shoes?

Safety shoes are important PPE (Personal protective equipment), they’re even mandatory in some trades. These safety shoes protect the operator during the execution of various daily work tasks. These accessories must not only meet the requirements of your workplace, but they must be comfortable too. 

The criteria of choosing the best safety shoes are numerous, for example, the type of sole, the material, the breathability and the ergonomics. You will find out in this guide all the information you need to choose the right shoes or safety boots.

Choose your safety shoes according to the risks

safety shoes in site

Statistics show that nearly 7% of work-related injuries are foot injuries. This is one of the reasons why safety shoes are subject to strict regulation. They represent a means of prevention against:

  • Slips;
  • Lacerations;
  • Crushes;
  • False movements
  • Chemical, biological, thermal, mechanical risks…

To choose your safety shoes, it is therefore important to take into account the circumstances in which they will be worn. The mobility of the worker is at the top of the list, especially in the business of operator and handling. Should he wear his shoes in a static situation, sitting or standing? Should he use them to walk all day?

Also, safety shoes are available in different models, because these models have specific protections relating to the operator’s function: mason, carpenter, locksmith, welder, electrician, machine operator, lumberjack, also cooker, employee of factory and laboratory, etc.

The answers to these questions point to the proper safety shoe. However, you should not overlook the following factors:

  • The climatic conditions of the workplace;
  • The dangers involved;
  • The comfort level.

The ergonomics of safety shoes and the work environment

When choosing the safety shoes, the degree of protection of the feet is the first criterion to consider. However, ergonomics should not be left behind. Safety shoes are subject to specific regulations and must meet standards that guarantee their quality.

To know the type of shoe that fits your function, you can rely on foot protection standard of your profession. Moreover, the choice of shoes often incorporates a dimension of common sense. For example, it is logical for a plumber to wear safety shoes with non-slip soles, or anti-perforation shoes for carpenters.

Know the standards of safety shoes to better choice

Standards are a guarantee of quality. To choose your safety shoes, it is necessary to question the requirements of the job and its function, to refer to the recommendations of the labor legislation and to match his need to safety standards.

There are several standards that allow the buyer to choose the shoes that suit him. They are generally grouped into three broad categories namely:

  • The EN 20347 standard;
  • The EN 20346 standard;
  • The EN 20345 standard.

The EN 20347 standard concerns the O-marking safety shoes. It indicates the safety shoes with the weakest protection (without a protective toe and sole). The EN 20346 standard concerns P-marking safety shoes. These have a safety toe that protects against a falling load of 10 kg objects. As for EN 20345 standards, it is for the safety shoes marking S. These are the shoes with the strongest protections. Indeed, the latter have safety toe that can withstand the fall of a load of 20 kg form a 1 m height.

The EN 20345 standard is the most widespread since it corresponds to the needs of the majority of professions such as:

  • Construction sites;
  • Workshops ;
  • The kitchens ;
  • Handling ;
  • The Peach…


The characteristics of the safety shoes in accordance with EN 20345 are numerous. These are sub-levels that can give you an insight of the level of performance of each type of safety shoes that comply the standards:

  • A: antistatic;
  • CI: cold insulation;
  • CR: cut resistance;
  • E: energy absorbing heel and impact resistant;
  • FO: oil resistant soles;
  • HI: heat insulation;
  • HRO: heat resistant contact soles;
  • M: metatarsal protection;
  • P: anti-perforation soles;
  • SRC: non-slip soles;
  • WR: water repellent;
  • WRU: waterproof rod.

The different categories and standards of safety footwear marking

safety shoes

For a better readability of the EN 20 345 standard, the characteristics of the corresponding safety shoes are grouped into categories:

  • EN 20345 S1 (A + FO + E);
  • EN 20345 S1P (A + FO + E + P);
  • EN 20345 S2 (A + FO + E + WRU);
  • EN 20345 S3 (A + FO + E + WRU + P);
  • EN 20345 S4 (A + FO + E + impermeability);
  • EN 20345 S5 (A + FO + E + P + impermeability).

An S1 model will combine an antistatic sole, resistant to hydrocarbons, with energy and shock absorbing heel.

An S1P model is the same as the S1 plus an anti-perforation sole (Better for carpenters).

An S2 model will combine a hydrocarbon-resistant antistatic sole with energy-absorbing heel and shock, plus a water resistance fabrics. Better for wet environments.

An S3 model is the same as S2 plus an anti-perforation sole.

Other criteria for choosing safety shoes

In addition to the above criteria, you should pay attention for the materials used to make your safety shoes. The lighter they will be, the better. The end caps may for example be steel or composite material. Although they offer the same degree of protection, they do not have the same weight.

safety shoes

Also, the presence of the quilted parts at the toe, heel and ankle bring more comfort to the operator. For more protection, try to choose a safety shoes that fits your feet, for example, consider the width of the foot inside the shoe. If too tight, the pair will cause blood circulation problems and if too wide, the safety of the feet of the operator is hardly assured.

Fortunately, it is easy today to find safety shoes that combine comfort and aesthetics. Regarding the price, it is advisable not to hesitate to invest in the pairs of shoes that suit you. It’s all about your safety.