Standards are a very important part of our lives, and they are developing further each day. Standards must be reviewed regularly, therefore, to see whether they reflect current state of the art technology. At the same time, the needs of the user must be considered, to increase protection at workplaces.

We are in times of change, not only because of the new PPE Regulation 2016/425. The harmonised standards for foot and leg protection are also under revision. The following recently revised standards were published in the near past.

EN ISO 20349:2017 Personal protective equipment – Footwear protecting against risks in foundries and welding:

  • Part 1: Requirements and test methods for protection against risks in foundries – A transition period till August 2019 was decided
  • Part 2: Requirements and test methods for protection against risks in welding and allied processes – A transition period till March 2018 was decided

Unfortunately, both parts were not published in the first list of harmonised standards according to the new Regulation 2016/425. Further discussions between standardising committees and European Commission have been started. Until now these standards only gave presumption of conformity according to the old PPE Directive 89/686/EEC.

EN 13634:2017 Protective footwear for motorcycle riders – Requirements and test methods, was published in the first list of harmonised standards according to the new Regulation 2016/425.

Also published as a harmonised standard according to PPE Regulation are:

  • EN ISO 20345 Safety Footwear
  • EN ISO 20346 Protective footwear
  • EN ISO 20347 Occupational Footwear
  • EN 15090 Shoes for Firefighters
  • EN ISO 17249 Safety Footwear with Resistance to Chain Saw Cutting
  • EN 13832 Part 2 Footwear Protecting Against the Spraying of Chemicals
  • EN 13832 Part 3 Footwear Highly Protective Against Chemicals

In future, pure testing standards, e.g. EN ISO 20344, will no longer be published as harmonised standards according to the PPE Regulation, but only as specifications.

However, we still have some big tasks in front of us. This article hopes to give you a new perspective on future changes of the standards, as discussed by standardising committees for manufacturers, laboratories, market surveillance, federations, insurances and ministries.

EN 13832

Footwear protecting against chemicals and microorganisms.

The standard consists of three parts:

  • Part 1 – Terminology and test methods
  • Part 2 – Requirements for footwear resistant to chemicals under laboratory conditions
  • Part 3 – Requirements for footwear highly resistant to chemicals under laboratory conditions

Splashing test principle

All parts were revised and a new splashing test for low risks was introduced.

At the moment we are waiting for the results of formal vote. Once the standard parts have been accepted, they can be published by the end of this year at the latest.

EN 12568

Foot and leg protectors – Requirements and test methods for toecaps and perforationresistant inserts.

For many years, metallic and non-metallic inserts have become indispensable to guarantee resistance to perforation. Both types of inserts are justified and give protection against perforation risks, but each has different additional advantages or disadvantages.

Metallic inserts are less affected by the shape of the sharp object / hazard (i.e. diameter, geometry, sharpness) but due to shoemaking limitations it does not cover the entire lower area of the footwear.

Non-Metallic inserts may be lighter, more flexible and provide greater coverage area when compared with metallic inserts, but the perforation resistance may vary more depending on the shape of the sharp object / hazard (i.e. diameter, geometry, sharpness).

That’s why you must make the right choice for your workspace.

Discussions and new experiences from recent years required us to revise EN 12568: 2010, standard for shoe components. At the same time, we decided to develop this standard as an international standard.

EN 12568 will become EN ISO 22568, divided into four parts:

  • Part 1 – Metallic toecaps
  • Part 2 – Non-metallic toecaps
  • Part 3 – Metallic perforation resistant inserts
  • Part 4 – Non-metallic perforation resistant inserts

The main changes, foreseen for toecaps, are:

  • A static and dynamic reference test to check the suitability of the plasticine
  • A second type of toecap with higher minimum clearances (taking into account softer outsole materials, orthopaedic adaption, etc.)
  • The determination of impact resistance after environmental treatment with acid and alkali will be dropped for nonmetallic toecaps

Test methods of perforation resistance for metallic inserts remain the same. During the test a nail of 4.5 mm diameter and a conical shape of the tip shall be used. The lowest result of the individual measurements is relevant for assessment. The minimum requirement is 1.100 N.

A major change, arising from a formal objection of Germany, which was on the agenda of the European Commission several times at PPE working group, is in discussion for non-metallic perforation resistant inserts. Some countries support this formal objection, others request a practicable solution of standardisation to improve the protection of the wearer. All interest groups are working intensively for a suitable solution.

The novelty is the pyramidal shape of the nail tip and a 3.0 mm diameter of the test nail, the so-called roofer’s nail.

Example of pyramidal nail shape

The average value of five individual measurements is relevant for assessment. Currently we check the suitability of the new test method for manufactured footwear. During several round robin tests we stated an improvement of the non-metallic perforation resistant materials on the market. But we were surprised that incorporated into the footwear the values decrease significantly, in some cases up to 20% without being able to recognise the reasons.

Also taking into account different risk situations at the work places we will implement two protection types – type 1 without nail perforation at 1100 N with the current method (conical nail) and type 2 with a perforation force of at least 1100 N with the new method (pyramidal nail).

Furthermore, the determination of perforation resistance after environmental treatment with acid and alkali will change to acid and alkaline perspiration solution.

EN ISO 22568 part 4 was confirmed by the experts in the last meeting. All four parts of this standard now can be sent for formal vote together as a package.

EN ISO 20344-7 series

PPE Foot and leg protection – Test methods and specifications for safety, protective and occupational footwear.

In principle, all terms and definitions have been reviewed and improved where necessary. This also applies to the figures given as examples.

As a result of the changes in EN ISO 22568 part 1 to 4 for components, the references and requirements in the standards for footwear must be adapted. Our proposal requirement for type 1 is 1100 N without nail perforation with the current method (conical nail) and type 2 at least 1100 N with the new method (pyramidal nail).

The requirements for electrically insulating (EN 50321) and conductive footwear (C) will be deleted, because the responsibility to define this property is in IEC Technical Committee 78. Antistatic test method and requirements will remain unchanged in this series of standards.

The additional requirements for ankle protection (AN) and metatarsal protection (M) will be described more precisely and clarified.

Forepart flat slip mode

The main changes are expected for the test method and requirement of slip resistance. Slip accident statistics are still not improving. Analysing the risks at workplaces and intensive discussions on better solutions for the test method guided us to propose to drop the test mode with steel plate and glycerine. The steel plate will be exchanged by the Euro tile 2, which is already well known. An additional change we will get with the exchange of the forward flat slip mode by the backwards forepart slip mode. The test with steel plate/glycerine and forepart flat slip mode are foreseen to be withdrawn two years after publication of the revised standards.

Backwards forepart slip mode

During the change from Euro tile 1 to Euro tile 2, a correction factor of 0.07 for the forward flat slip mode and 0.03 in the forward heel slip mode was introduced in order to compare the results of both tiles. As Euro tile 1 is no longer available for the test, there is no longer any need to apply this correction factor to Euro tile 2. This means that the previous requirements will increase by this factor and the results determined in the test are to be used directly for the evaluation. The values with a yellow background are current practice. The committee is considering defining one of the test modes as a general basic requirement without additional marking and to offer all additional tests optionally and with appropriate marking.

Current Marking Proposed Marking Remark Proposal Requirement (With CF/Without CF)
SRA SR1 Euro tile E2 with SLS: heel 7°, flat* or forepart 7° 0.28/0.31, 0.32/0.39
SR2 Euro tile E2 with glycerin: heel 7°,  forepart 7° -/0.19, -/0.25
SRB* Steel plate with glycerin: heel 7°, flat 0.13/-, 0.18/-

* should expire after 2 years from publication CF = correction factor (heel 0,03, flat 0,07)

In our future work we also try to find suitable test methods for frost/ ice and off-road conditions, but up to now this project does not influence current work.

The current standards revision will include an informative annex. This annex provides the reader with information on slip resistance in relation to footwear. When specifying and selecting footwear, slip resistance should be given a high priority.

Orthopedic adaption of PPE

Orthopedic adaption of PPE is a topic that is becoming more and more important. The new PPE regulation 2016/425 has specifically addressed this issue. All PPE should protect the user from risks at the workplace, including orthopedically adapted PPE.

At the moment we differentiate between several types of orthopedic safety, protective and occupational footwear and footwear adaption. Bespoke footwear is a footwear item produced from components as a single unit to fit an individual user.

All materials and components must fulfil the requirements of the corresponding standards:

  • Adapted footwear – Footwear modified from its original form with outsole raises, oversized upper, calipers, oversized (or otherwise unusually shaped) toecap and any other permanent adaption necessary to fit an individual user
  • Orthopedic footbed and insocks – Ordinary PPE footwear incorporating a raised or modified shaped orthotic footbed or insocks or ordinary PPE footwear fitted with a unique footbed to improve gait where no other physical changes were done on the PPE footwear

All protection properties affected by the orthopedic adaption must be retested and fulfil the requirements of the corresponding standards.

Due to the high number of possibilities of orthopedic adaption a very detailed and clear description is needed of what to do in which circumstance. For this reason a normative annex will be added. Austria and Germany already have many experiences which will be taken into account.

Two additional optional requirements will be implemented in future, taking into account special workplaces.

First one is called “Ladder grip” to prevent slipping on a ladder rungs. The outsoles of footwear shall include transverse cleats at the waist area and shall have an inclined-breast heel. We were already able to gain good experience with these requirements in EN 15090 “Shoes for Firefighters” and have therefore adopted them.

“a previously mandatory requirement is expected to become optional in the future. It is the fuel resistance for outsoles”

The second optional additional requirement is “Scuff caps” – an abrasion resistant material or component to protect against scuffs of the upper external toe region, especially for kneeling jobs. Here, too, we were able to make use of existing test methods and experience from the field of hand protection – EN 388 “Gloves against mechanical risks” – and take over the highest requirement for PPE footwear with 8000 abrasion cycles without hole formation.

A previously mandatory requirement is expected to become optional in the future. It is the fuel resistance for outsoles. We have checked workplace situations and found out, that contact with fuel is not necessarily to be expected at every workplace. Furthermore, after intensive discussion, we suggested only testing the outsole materials that are in contact with the ground and thus exposed to wear and tear or impairment.

Another topic regarding outsoles was raised during our work. The standard defines d1 outsole thickness. This value consists of the full material thickness, but also taking into account possible cavities.

Forepart flat slip mode

In our day-to-day testings, we found that the actual outsole thickness is becoming ever thinner, making testing almost impossible. However, it is much more important that due to this low material thickness, outsoles show faster damage and wear and tear that impair the protective properties of the whole bottom construction. In order to guarantee a minimum material thickness, we propose the value d4 of at least 2mm as shown in the example.

To make it easier for users to assess the degree of wear of their PPE, we will add an informative annex with sample pictures. The footwear manufacturer can pass on these instructions in his user information to the wearer for attention.

The changes described also entail some changes in labelling, which allows users to make the right choice according to their workplace situation. Here we are currently still looking for a simple and easily understandable possibility.

“standardisation of PPE footwear is a very diverse and interesting topic. Standard revisions are never ending processes – Panta rhei!”

Last but not least, we are working on a new subject: EN ISO 21353 “Overboots, overshoes and accessories”.

This International Standard shall specify basic and additional (optional) requirements for overboots, overshoes and other accessories used to provide protection to the wearer. It includes, for example, mechanical, chemical, electrical and thermal risks, slip resistance and ergonomic behaviour. Clarification in some cases is required as to how to interpret and conduct the testing required on these PPE. Work on this issue is progressing slowly. All definitions, test methods and requirements must be carefully checked.

The components to be defined in this standard are not a substitute to safety, protective, occupational or other PPE footwear. Special risks remain covered by complementary job-related standards (e.g. footwear for firefighters, electrical insulating footwear, protection against chainsaw injuries, protection against chemicals and molten metal splash, protection for motorcycle riders).


Footwear consists of many different materials and components. There are different production methods that can have different effects on the protective properties. We try to reconcile all these conditions with the protection requirements of the users. We are also dependent on your experience.

As you can see, standardisation of PPE footwear is a very diverse and interesting topic. Standard revisions are never ending processes – Panta rhei!