Safety Shoes & Boots

posted by on March, 07, 2016 in Safety Standards

How to choose your Safety Boots?

What do all these terms and codes mean?

What are Antistatic shoes?

Antistatic shoes are shoes which safely “ground” electric charges. The dissipation of the electrostatic tension must take place between the foot and the ground. In order to guarantee the antistatic effect, it should be between 100kΩ and 1.000 MΩ. The vast majority of the safety footwear that we sell is Antistatic.

What are Side-Zip safety boots?

Side zip boots simply have an access zip on the side, for wearer safety.

“Zip and lace boots” or “zip up safety boots” or “side zip safety boots” allow the wearer to get in and out of the safety boots quicker. This is a safety feature – as there are times when boots can get stuck and you need to extract your foot quickly. Side zip safety boots give the wearer far better ankle support than a slip on or pull up rigger boot  or safety dealer boot . (Because with a side zip safety boot you can adjust the laces to give your foot a very snug, neat fit, while still getting in and out of your safety boots quickly). We have zip and lace boots available from stock: Side-Zip safety boots


What are ESD shoes?

ESD stands for ElectroStatic Dissipative footwear. ESD footwear absorbs and neutralizes static electricity. This prevents dangerous build of electric static – which can damage computers. ESD shoes absorb loose electrons and send them into the floor. ESB footwear is commonly worn in environments such as computer manufacturing. The Electrostatic Dissipative shoe regulates the accumulation of electrical charge within the wearer’s body. ESD shoes also reduce the risk of static shock to both the wearer and the computer product. Examples of ESD shoes and boots currently available here.

Why buy safety trainers?

Safety trainers or safety hikers are more athletic-looking safety footwear, designed to be flexible, lightweight. Typically drivers buy safety trainers – for driving comfort. The safety trainer look is more discrete and so the protective toe cap is not usually so obvious – so retail staff or staff dealing with the public often wear safety trainers. Our range of safety trainers and hikers has over 100 (!)  styles from brands such as Amblers, Caterpillar, Puma and V12. Safety trainers at North Sea Workwear.


What are the feaures of Ladies safety footwear?

90% of safety footwear is still bought for men. The 10% that is for women is a growing amount. Typically ladies safety footwear is designed to be neater, smaller (sizes 3-8) but still give the same protection as (males safety footwear ie 200Joules safety toe protection. We carry over 100 styles of unisex or specifically ladies safety footwear. Our best selling ladies styles are:  the Caterpillar Kitson boot or the Amblers FS47 or the Amblers Mary Jane


What is an Occupational Safety shoe?

An occupational safety shoes only allows 100joules of toe protection (vs the normal 200 joules of toe protection). Typically occupational safety shoes are worn by office staff who only occasionally go into low risk drop areas. An example of  a ladies occupational safety shoe is Amblers FS96

Who buys Metal-free safety boots?

“Metal-free safety boots” or “non-metal safety boots” are used by security staff (prison officers, airport security, shopping centre security) who frequently pass through metal detectors, and don’t want to have to remove their safety shoes.

An additional benefit of non-metal safety shoes is that there is less chance of sparking an electric flash fire.

Also, Metal-free boots are usually lighter on your feet – and so more comfortable.

NB  A toe cap can be composite (non metal) but the eyelets of the boot may still be metal! - so only a boot that is specifically marked metal-free is actually metal-free.  We have over 100 non-metal toe cap boots in stock, find it at Metal Free Safety Boots.

When should I wear metatarsal protection safety boots?

In heavy industry (and especially in foundries), there is a risk of very heavy objects falling on your feet. (eg rolling metal pipes, iron bars etc). In such cases, you need more that a steel toe cap, you need to protection your metatarsals – the upper part of your foot.

Metatarsal safety boots typically have an additional metal or gel protective flap, covered in leather. This metatarsal flap disperses the impact over a greater area, to help protect your foot. We stock the following metatarsal boots.


Where can I get forestry or chainsaw footwear?

Woodsmen, arborists, tree surgeons and gardeners using chainsaws and even hedge trimmers should protect themselves properly.  Chainsaw safety boots and chainsaw wellingtons have a protective metatarsal cover designed to stop a rotating chain or disk.

To protect your legs and feet from scratches, nicks and more serious damage, buy chainsaw boots from North Sea Workwear.

Waterproof vs Water-resistant: what’s the big deal?

Water-resistant safety boots are likely to keep your feet dry – but not certain. Waterproof safety boots are designed to 100% keep your feet dry. We sell both water-resistant safety boots and waterproof safety boots. Waterproof is logically more expensive – but maybe you don’t need waterproof? Consider this article which says that water-resistant is all any of us ever practically needs:     or just dive in and buy the best your feet can get Waterproof safety boots.

What are the best waterproof boots to buy?

The best waterproof boots to buy are the waterproof boots that have a Gore-tex lining – which keeps water out but lets your feet breathe. By allowing your feet to breath, you reduce the risk of sweating feet.

What are SB rated safety Shoes?:

SB rated safety shoes are shoes with a protective toe cap that can withstand 200Joules of impact – or 1100Newtons of compression. (200 joules is like dropping 20kg weight form 1 metre height; or 1100 Newtons is like placing a 1 ton (100kgs) on top of the shoes and the toe cap still protects your toes. NB protective toe caps can be steel, aluminium or composite (Metal-free). They each give equal protection, but metal-free is usually lighter. Examples of SB safety shoes and boots at North Sea Workwear.

What are S1 shoes?

An S1 shoe is just one level above a standard safety boot or work boot. S1 class shoes are Antistatic; they have a high resistance to abrasion; they have steel toes and are non-slip. They also have energy absorption in the soles which can prevent injuries caused by short falls or hard impacts with the ground. This class of shoe is also required to be resistant to contact heat. In addition to all of this, S1 shoes have antistatic protection which can help to prevent static sparks.

S1 safety shoes are ideal for jobs which involve the handling of flammable chemicals or gases that could be ignited with an electrostatic spark. Manufacturing and factory work fall into this category. These are S1 Shoes.


What are S2 shoes?

S2 safety shoes provide all of the protection of an S1 shoe, but are also Water Resistant. “WRU” refers to water resistant Upper. NB “Water resistant” is Not as good as “Waterproof”. Waterproof safety boots should protect your foot 100% from ingress of water; whereas water-resistant boots will not guarantee waterproofness. S2 class shoes are ideal for occupations where the worker must move through pools of water or chemicals. These shoes are appropriate for jobs such as outdoor maintenance, landscaping or some construction. For S2 safety footwear available today from our stock, click here.

What are S3 shoes?

S3 safety shoes include all of the protection available in S1 and S2 shoes, but S3 also has a safety midsole ie a nail-resistant plate in the sole. This nail plate is designed to prevent injuries that may result from the shoe being punctured from the bottom up. An S3 shoe is designed for heavy construction work, demolition work and any occupation which requires movement across dangerous debris or terrain. You can buyS3 safety boots here North Sea Workwear.

S4 and S5 safety shoes are identical to S1 and S3 class shoes respectively, but are made from polymers like rubber. S1 through S3 class shoes are made from non-polymers such as leather. S2 class shoes have no corresponding polymer designation because waterproofing is a basic requirement of a polymer shoe.

All the safety wellingtons and waders that we sell are S4 or more likely S5 Safety Wellingtons.


Safety Ratings

SB          Safety Basic, 200 joules toe protection

SBP        As Safety Basic, but with Steel Midsole

S1           200 joules toe protection; Anti-static properties; Energy Absorbing Sole

S2           As S1, but with Water resistant uppers

S3           As S2, but with Penetration Resistant Sole

S4           200 joule toe protection; all Rubber (or polymeric) outer; Energy Absorbing Sole

S5           As S4, but with Penetration Resistant Sole


UK & European Shoe Size Guide:

Shoe Size Guide

View our full range of safety footwear at



Additional Information about Common Safety Footwear materials:


What is 3M Thinsulate?

 3M Thinsulate is a manmade insulating lining which keeps your feet warm in winter and fresh in summer. Safety boots use it but so too do certain beanie hats and wintergloves. We carry the following range of Thinsulate products.


What is Cambrelle?

Cambrelle is a superior non-woven synthetic fabric used primarily as a lining for shoes, boots and slippers. The technologies that went into developing Cambrelle are complex. With patented fibre, Cambrelle is specially engineered through a process which spins two types of nylon together. The fibre is melded into a non-woven fabric which features an extremely high absorption rate, excellent breathability and resistance to odour, abrasion and pilling for strength and durability. The following boots use Cambrelle linings: more info here.

Mesh is lining from skin-friendly, 3D-Mesh polyester yarns with a honeycomb structure for optimal breathability/ventilation. Mesh is moisture-absorbing and quick-drying - for your best foot comfort. These 100+ safety boots have mesh linings.


What is Polyurethane (PU) outsole?

Many safety boots are now made with a dual density PU sole. This means that polyurethane in liquid form, has been moulded (twice – in 2 different thicknesses) to the upper of the shoe. PU is typically very light, and cushions your feet – just like the EVA or Phylon outsole of a normal running shoe. These are some of the safety boots we sell with PU outsoles - here.


Kevlar or Dyneema midsole vs a steel midsole?

S3 safety shoes and boots have a penetration resistant midsole: this protects your foot from nails, needles, blades and jagged, sharp objects that can easily pierce the outsole. Traditionally the midsole is a slim, flexible sliver of steel. This gives good protection, but may be uncomfortable for wear if you walk a lot or need to flex the foot (eg while driving).

An alternative midsole protection is Kevlar or Dyneema woven midsole. Kevlar and Dyneema are brands of cut and bullet resistant materials: if they can resist bullets, they can resist the nails, needles and knives that you may inadvertently stand on. Kevlar and Dyneema both typically allow greater flexibility and comfort, but cost significantly more. To see which style we have available, just click here.




05 Jul 2019 | 06:48:33

Very good product

05 Jul 2019 | 06:51:52

My name Rond Willes and Good Job, excellent article, I loved it the way that you explained about footwear for safety purpose

14 Oct 2020 | 09:48:13

Very good products. This guide will help you more:

10 Aug 2021 | 10:55:29

Great Article! Thank you for sharing wonderful information with us. Buy Now a href= rel=nofollowCaterpillar Spiro S3 SRC Waterproof Steel Toe Safety Boot - Brown or Honey /a

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