Health and Safety Footwear Regulations

Health and Safety Footwear Regulations

When working on construction sites, hazards are everywhere and the majority are at foot level. With this in mind, it is a high priority to make sure you are wearing the correct footwear.

It is required by law that the correct footwear is worn when there is a real risk of injury, and most employers will introduce policies around this law.

How is safety footwear categorised?

Safety footwear is categorised depending on what type of shoe you are wearing. For instance, different types of shoes like boots, shoes and trainers can be considered safety footwear when they are equipped with safety features such as toe caps or slip resistant soles.

It also depends on what you are wearing them for; safety footwear may also have been worn due to health conditions. You may need a certain shape of sole due to a foot injury, it may be plantar fasciitis or even diabetes.

When are safety shoes required?

There are many situations where safety footwear will be needed. Some of the most common scenarios in which safety shoes must be worn include when working with:

  • Hazardous materials
  • Sharp or heavy objects
  • Heavy machinery

How is safety footwear categorised?

The British standard for safety shoes is the same as the standards across Europe - no matter the type of safety shoe, they must be able to take an impact of at least 200 joules.

This is currently classed as the EN Standard of 20345:2011.

Do I have to wear steel toe boots at work?

Of course, this depends on the industry in which you work. Also, steel toe cap boots are not always necessary when at work, you could also wear safety trainers or safety shoes.

As long as the composite material in the safety footwear can take an impact of at least 200 joules, then they are suitable to wear for work, whether that is in construction or manufacturing, for example.

Does an employer have to provide safety footwear?

When working in an environment where there is a risk of a shoe being hit by an object or crushed/caught in machinery, the employer must provide safety footwear.

As well as providing standard impact-safety shoes, if there is potential for the feet being impaled with nails or other sharp objects, then the employer must also provide footwear with puncture-resistant soles.

How is safety footwear categorised?

Different types of safety footwear have different ratings. We’ll summarise the main ones in two simple tables below:

SB  Toe protection to 200 joules
S1  Anti-static and oil-resistant
S2  Water penetration resistant
S3  Midsole penetration resistant
S4  Leak-proof
S5  Leak-proof and midsole penetration resistant

A  Antistatic
AN  Ankle protection
C  Conductive
CI  Cold insulation
E  Energy absorption
I  Electricity insulating
HI  Heat insulation
P  Penetration resistant
M  Metatarsal protection
WR  Water resistant

Top safety footwear brands

Hirst have been around since 1983 with an extensive history of and specialising in supplying high quality workwear and safety footwear.

  1. DeWalt

DeWalt workwear is designed to be able to take on the harshest of work environments by being intensely durable and highly protective. Their products do all this whilst being extremely comfortable.

DeWalt workwear is the go-to brand for tradesmen. Their lightweight fabrics and very efficient workwear is irresistable.

Through Hirst, we offer a wide range of DeWalt clothing and footwear. We highly recommend the Carlisle Honey Safety Toe Cap Boots. These boots are equipped with steel toe protection and are also incredibly comfy.


Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen provides a great array of workwear, from safety boots all the way to jackets for when you’re on the job outdoors.

As industry leaders, they produce high quality workwear with a large range being supplied through Hirst. With Helly Hansen being dedicated to creating great, comfy and durable workwear, they are a great choice.

One work boot which stands out is the Chelsea Composite Safety Boots. The Helly Tech performance waterproof membrane will keep your feet dry no matter what the environment and work day throws at you. The whole boot has extra padding for more protection and the soles are resistant to penetration.



Dickies workwear range is classic. Dickies have been a popular brand since the 90s and their workwear clothes and shoes are worn both in and outside of the workplace.

From the classic Dickies trousers to the trending work overalls, there is plenty of choice when looking for stylish workwear. In terms of safety footwear, the Clifton Safety Work Shoes are durable, comfy and provide a great deal of protection.



When it comes to finding the best safety footwear, Grafters have it all. From boots to shoes, from riggers to wellies, they have it.

If you’re looking for a pair of lightweight safety boots, the Nubuck Safety Boots are perfect for you! These boots are not only lightweight but are also slip resistant and water resistant. They also have extra protection over the toes with a steel cap.



Amblers footwear are designed to provide a high amount of protection through both steel caps and penetration-resistant midsoles.

The boots themselves absorb the impacts from heavy objects if dropped. Ambler’s selection offers both protection and great comfort.

We would recommend the Skipton Safety Chelsea Boots - these boots will not only ensure that your feet stay protected but will also guarantee unstoppable comfort whilst at work.

Back to blog