ISO 20345 Code For Safety Boots

Q: SANS / ISO 20345? What am I?
A: Safety boot or Safety shoe

This is the International Standards Organisation (ISO) code for footwear that has been approved to avoid risk of injury at work. SANS (South African National Standard) has adopted the ISO marking. All safety footwear sold in South Africa must, mandatorily, have their SANS/ISO accreditation tests and certificates checked and approved by the NRCS (The National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications) who will issue them with a LOA (Letter of Authority) to sell the footwear.

What defines a safety boot?

    1. A toe cap at the front of the footwear covering your toes. Offering protection of 200 joules of drop or compression protection. It can be made from Steel, Composite (Plastics or Fibre Glass) or Aluminum. Toe caps come in various sizes throughout the styles size range. They also come in a variety of sizes and widths.
    a) What is 200 joules? 20kg of weight dropped from 1.8metres high.
    2. A thick, abrasion resistant upper covering the entire upper section of the foot. Primarily manufactured out of bovine leather (buffalo or cow). Offering flexibility, breathability, protection from bumps/knocks and scratches – and protection from the elements. It is intrinsically repellent to light splashes of water. (A safety boot is not a gumboot, and no leather safety boot offers 100% water resistance.)
    a) Leather comes in various grades. Simply put… the more expensive the boot or shoe, the better the quality of leather being utilised. Therefore the more superior the thickness, the abrasion resistance and resilience to liquids. The breathability is also superior.
    3. An outer sole, primarily dual density offering a hard-wearing outsole (in contact with gravel, cement, bricks and stones) and a soft and cushioned midsole (offering a softer, bouncier surface for your foot). It can be made from either PU (Polyurethane), TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) or RB (Rubber).
    a) PU & TPU has a heat resistance of between 90 and 110 degrees. It is anti-static. (Reduces static build up in the body).
    b) Rubber has a heat resistance of 300’ degrees (up to 500’ degrees with certain designs). It is non-conductive (Does not all heat or electricity to flow through)..
    4. The PU sole compound is resistant to oil, petrol and diesel. The rubber compound has increased resistance to incorporate acids and chemicals as well.
    5. The outer sole compound also needs to be slip resistant. This can be measured as either a basic SRA slip resistance (soap solution on ceramic tiles) or SRB slip resistance (glycerol on stainless steel) or the superior SRC slip resistance (which covers all slip resistance tests).
    6. The leather upper is connected to the middle part of the boot through a process called “stroebelling” which is the perpetual angled stitching of the ends of the leather upper to a piece of rigid and anti-static insole board. This is also called innersole. It is the part of the boot your foot will come closest into contact with.
    7. The boot is not glued to the sole. The boot is not stitched to the sole. The boot is not cemented to the sole. It is held together through a process called direct injection – meaning the outer sole is connected to the leather by liquid polyurethane which hardens around the leather upper. This is what gives safety footwear all of it’s unique characteristics and flexibility of movement.
    8. Sometime your work environment requires additional protection.
    a) from falling objects which could cause damage to more than just your toes. These falling objects could break the bones in your feet. Boots also come out with meta guards (which over metatarsal protection to those bones on the bridge of your foot)
    b) Or you may work in an area that can cause puncturing through the sole of the footwear and penetrate the underside of your foot. You would then seek out footwear which offers 1100nm (newton metres) of puncture force. This comes in the form of either a steel midplate or an anti-puncture material, like kevlar. The steel midplate is held in place under the insole board. The anti-puncture material takes the place of the insole board.
    9. Sometimes your work environment only needs a had wearing boot or shoe, that offers all the features of slip resistance and resistance to chemicals but does not need a toe cap. This is called Occupational Footwear. And carries the SANS / ISO 20347 marking. It is not classified as a safety boot or safety shoe.
    10. Finally, your footwear will either conme standard with or can have an accessory inserted inside it called an insock or a footbed. This is a cushioned and comfortable additional layer of comfort for long hours on one’s feet. It is placed on top of the insole board, or anti puncture material. Normally manufactured from a gel foam or PU injected memory foam. They can be removed and washed. They can also be replaced.
Diagram of ISO 20345 Safety Boot

ISO 20345 Safety Boot

For a chat about your work forces safety footwear requirements please give us a call on +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032 or drop an email to organise a call

Safety PPE

Steel Toe Caps vs Composite Toe Caps

Why use composite toe caps?

For many industrial sector workers, wearing shoes or boots with toe caps on a daily basis is challenging. The two most commonly requested features are weight and comfort. Composite toe caps are lighter than steel and they are also more durable. Composite toe caps are made from a plethora of materials, and differ regarding the need of the specific designed boot. However, the most popular composite used materials are kevlar, fibreglass, plastic, and carbon fibre.

Composite toe caps are generally lighter because of their production process – nanotechnology creates thin layers of fibre that are then bonded together; creating a strong but thin cap. They also don’t get cold or hot – unlike steel. They are non-conductive. We find they are used extensively in the mining sector and for specialist technicians who travel regularly. This is because composite toe caps will not set off metal detectors at airports or security scanners on site.

Why use steel toe caps?

Steel toe caps are still the most used toe cap in the world. Recent studies indicate they are still used in 90% of the worlds global safety shoe and boot production. They remain the most popular option in today’s market for safety boots and shoes. With advances in design and materials, they are often not as heavy as they once were. They are a tried and tested option as well – having been used since the First World War. That’s over 100 years of testing!

There is an unfortunate myth surrounding steel toe capped boots. And that is that they are more likely to act like a guillotine if a heavy object lands on your foot – cutting off and crushing your toes. This is totally false. It was even proven false on the famous TV series “MythBusters” Season 3, Episode 23.

Steel toe caps are cheaper than their composite alternatives. Steel toe caps are as strong, and in many cases, actually stronger than composite toe caps. Many plastic toe caps have battled to pass compression tests, and also only pass a 100 joule test. Steel has been around for a very long time and passes the 200 joule requirements with ease. The old saying “If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it” fits well in this discussion of which route to go. Many people are still of the opinion that despite their relative benefits, steel toe caps still remain the industry leader.

Because of over 100 years of R&D, steel toe caps are also available in a wide variety of styles, sizes, shapes and widths! Composite toe caps are a more recent development to the safety footwear world, and being more expensive they are reserved for use in higher specification boots for specialist industries.

Pros & Cons of Steel Toe Caps


    – Cheaper in general than composite toe caps
    – As strong as composite, and sometimes stronger than.
    – A tried and tested method of foot protection
    – More styles, sizes, shapes and widths available with a steel toe cap


    – Heavier than composite
    – Will conduct heat and cold
    – Also will conduct electricity

Pros & Cons of Composite Toe Caps

    – Lightweight and durable
    – Don’t conduct electricity or heat and cold


    – Usually found in higher spec boots, meaning they are more expensive
    – Not as wide a variety of styles, sizes & shape


Steel and composite toe caps have all been subjected to and meet safety standard requirements. They are all fully compliant for use.

Where there are generally more benefits associated with composite toe caps, it has been proven that the widely held myth that they are safer than steel toe caps is false. This should have no impact on your choice. Overall, the composite toe cap offers the benefits of the steel toe cap plus a few extras like non conductivity and lighter weight. Steel toe cap boots are still as safe and often cheaper. Composite toe caps are definitely suited to more specific and specialist work environments.

toe protection

This icon means ProFit footwear offers toe protection

For a chat about your work forces safety footwear requirements please give us a call on +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032 or drop an email to organise a call


Safety Boot Codes Explained

What Are Safety Boot Codes?

When buying safety boots there can be a lot to consider. Looks are important but you can’t disregard the critical factors in place of beauty! Yes, it’s important and we want our clients to be happy in what they wear but not at the expense of safety – that’s for sure! For some people that’s it, job done. “The manufacturers description and “codes” indicated they were safety boots, so I’m happy with the appearance and they fit!” Wrong!

Understanding your footwear is critical. There are many different codes and abbreviations associated with a pair of safety boots or shoes to consider that will give you an indication of the various levels of safety they will provide.

What is EN ISO 20345:2011?

EN ISO 20345:2011 will pop up on a lot of product descriptions for safety footwear. It specifies basic and additional (or optional) requirements for safety footwear that are used for general purpose. All safety boots must be manufactured and certified under this standard. That’s non negotiable.


The EN ISO 20345:2011 tag that comes with all ProFit safety footwear

Safety Boot Rating

There are several ratings for safety footwear and they are generally indicated by a two-letter abbreviation. They all start with the letter S;

• SB (Safety Basic) = This is the basic safety standard for footwear. These will have toe protection against a 200-joule impact, and is resistant to fuel oil and has energy absorption.
• S1 = As well as the basic toe protection, S1 will ensure that footwear has anti-static protection, is resistant to fuel oil and has energy absorption in the heel.
• S2 = These have all the same protection as S1, plus the added protection of preventing water penetration and absorption of the uppers.
• S3 = This has all the same protection as S2 level, plus midsole penetration resistance (steel or anti puncture material).
• S4 = The same level of protection offered by S1 but with a moulded polymer/rubber upper (e.g. Wellington Boots) making them fully waterproof.
• S5 = The same features as S4 footwear with the additional benefit of midsole penetration resistance

Safety Boot Code Abbreviations;

Now this is where it can get confusing, sometimes a manufacturer will add on an additional letter. For example, a common one is SB-P. This is indicating that the boot has an optional feature. So, in this example you get the basic protection of SB plus you get the addition of P. The P stands for Penetration Resistance. There are many abbreviations that can be added onto a rating;

• P – Penetration resistance
• C – Conductive
• A – Antistatic
• I – Electricity insulating footwear
• WR – Water Resistance
• M – Metatarsal Protection
• AN – Ankle Protection
• CR – Cut Resistant Upper
• WRU – Water Penetration and Water Absorption Upper
• HRO – Outsole Resistance to Hot Contact

What Is Anti-Slip footwear?

Anti-Slip footwear (slip resistance footwear) is becoming more and more requested on all industrial sites… building sites, hospitals, food manufacturing plants and a wide host of other settings. And for good reason slips, trips and falls make up an astonishing 43% of all serious work-related injuries. Footwear that as an anti-slip rating will be added onto the safety boot rating. For example, you may see the following three letters : SRC. These are the three codes used for slip resistance testing.

• SRA – tested on ceramic tiles saturated with soap solution.
• SRB – tested on smooth stainless steel with glycerol.
• SRC – tested under both the above conditions. (Passing both SRA & SRB)

4 Top Tips when buying safety boots?

1. Assess where you’re working: This is crucial, you’re not going to need S5 waterproof wellies if most of your day is spent in an office. On the flip side it would be silly to get just the basic SB if you’re a contractor going to different types of building sites daily where hazards can range from rusty old nails to slippery underfoot conditions. Take the time to consider all the hazards you come across on a regular basis and purchase accordingly.

2. Fit and comfort: Take the time to make sure that your new boots are a snug fit and feel comfortable. Many of you will be wearing these for 10-12 or more. See that there are no manufacturers faults on the inner that may rub against your skin. Make sure that they fit well, there’s no point buying a size 8 wide fit if you have narrow feet, maybe try a 7 or look at toe cap width. Incorrectly fitted boots can lead to trips.

3. Bootcare: Look after your safety boots, let them air dry at room temp if they have become wet. Don’t dry near a fire place as this can damage the leather uppers. Make sure you lace up and loosen between use. If your boots get muddy make sure you clean them with a suitable brush. No pair of boots is going to last forever but with care and attention you can get the most out of yours! (5 years or more easily with regular polishing).

4. Price doesn’t necessarily mean “more safe”: The price of safety boots can vary from R275 to the R1500 per pair mark. Don’t automatically think that price gives you the best levels of protection. This is not always the case for a higher priced safety boot, you may be paying extra for unnecessary features. Buy industry specific (such as construction safety boots or mining safety boots). Talk to the professionals in safety footwear.

For a chat about your work forces safety boot requirements please give us a call on +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032 or drop an email to organise a call

Putting on a pair of Safety Boots

How to Correctly Put On and Wear a pair of Safety Boots

You are teaching me how to put on a pair of safety boots?
That’s right… this article is teaching you the correct way to actually put on and wear a pair of safety footwear. It doesn’t seem like something which would require step by step instruction but it isn’t often as simple as breathing or riding a bicycle.

Because wearing safety footwear is subjective – you often have immediately negative views on wearing a product with a steel toe cap.

Subjective is a term that refers to someone’s personal opinions or feelings regarding particular subject matter. Subjective views or opinions are not based on truth or fact. They are one person’s unique interpretation of an idea and their thoughts and feelings.

So here are some tips to change negative connotations with regards to steel toe cap boots and shoes – and to stop your steel toe boots from hurting you, including finding the professional fit and how to actually wear them in a correct manner.

Steel toe cap boots are worn every single day in an industrial environment, up to 10 hours or more – so it is almost inevitable that you’ll experience some level of foot pain. The most common causes of foot pain in safety boots are blisters and rubbing, a tight or narrow feeling and then issues stemming from bunions, corns or even ingrown toenails.

Taking the time to try on a pair of safety boots, finding a suitable fit – and then breaking them in are vital in helping them being an asset to your feet and not a liability to your comfort.

How should they feel on my feet?
They should feel neither loose nor too tight. But they must feel snug and protective. Like swaddling a baby in a blanket. You should most certainly feel some resistance or pressure (you need to know they are there) but you shouldn’t feel any pain. Pain is not a snug feel. Pain is not resistance or pressure. Pain is a very sharp, unpleasant feeling that you would will know immediately. But snug is snug. And snug is important once the foot is inside the boot.

Don’t think you are only one size. Safety boots have a steel toe cap – and you should always try the size you think you are and one size up. Also, don’t try on only a left or only a right whilst siting down. Make 100% certain that you put on both shoes; left and right. As your feet are more often than not, actually different shapes and can be different sizes. Once they are on both feet, lace them up fully and tie them at the top. Stand up and walk around for a bit. This will immediately indicate pain. If they are simply snug. You are on the right track. If you detect any rubbing, or areas that may blister – you should look at a larger size. In a steel toe cap safety boot, your toes should not make contact with the front end of you footwear. On the flipside of that coin – you should not have too much space. We are looking for a snug fit. Not a foot moving around freely inside – as this leads to sliding along the footbed, which is essentially rubbing and can cause “the sandpaper effect” where your foot slides forward and backwards throughout the day. It will end in discomfort.

What should I wear when trying on my safety boots?
Point number one is to always remember to wear exactly the same type of industrial socks that you wear on a normal workday. Don’t come barefoot. Don’t come in running socks. Don’t come in super thick thermal socks. And don’t just wear a thin polyester sock. Wear the exact socks you wear at work. (Find the right type of sock to wear with our handy guide). Sounds silly – but remember, wearing thicker or thinner socks on the day will affect the fit. Guaranteed.

Your feet are always smallest the moment you get out of bed in the morning. And during a work day, in the first hours of standing on them, they begin to expand. After 7-10 hours on one’s feet they can be swollen due to long hours on one’s feet, less blood flow (lack of circulation) and we have actually seen feet 7% larger in the afternoon. For this reason – we always recommend trying on a shoe when they are at their largest… at the end of the day. It’s a great helpful hint.

What is breaking in a safety boot? And how can I do it?
The term “Breaking In” a pair of shoes originates as an analogy to the process of breaking in a horse. It takes some time – but is so worth it. It means helping them to conform to the shape of your feet, making them more comfortable to wear.

The Day You Get Them – Wear Them Around your House
The most common and easiest way to do this is, is for short periods of time at home. Starting daily, for ten minutes with increasing increments in the time wearing them. We have found, once you are in the snug fit – popping them on and taking a walk around the block helps tremendously. Especially in your industrial socks and on a nice warm day in the natural sunlight. By doing this, you will begin stretching the leather upper and improve the fit – from both outside on the upper in the sun and inside the boot with the natural temperature from your warm feet.

Should I Polish My Leather Boots?
Leather loves polish! Leather craves polish! Leather will absorb polish and soften! After a good polish – a nice walk in them again around the house or the block will help them soften and take the shape of your foot (mould to your feet quicker). If you do this daily – after you first purchase the boots, and then continue weekly… you will find a happier fit very quickly.

Always Lace Up
Again, often overlooked because of a lack of understanding about the importance of lacing. But, laces are there for a reason. Always lace those boots up to get a snug fit, and should they feel tight around the widest part of your foot, adjust the laces accordingly. This will give your foot a little more room, and allow the entire boot to continue forming around your foot. Continue to walk around, and as time progresses – you will find yourself needing to actually start tightening them slightly to maintain the snug fit. And, as long as the laces are done up tightly enough, you shouldn’t experience any slipping inside either. Don’t forget – when removing the boots to untie and loosen the laces before taking them off!

How long can it take to feel comfortable in a new pair of boots?
Depending on the type of leather, in the case of ProFit Safety Footwear we use superior full grain leathers – a couple of days (taking into account a walk around the house or block a day) but never more than a couple of weeks. A general guideline however is that you should allow a couple weeks for breaking brand new safety boots in. The advantage being that once broken in – you can confidently wear them in your work environment for long hours throughout the week in comfort. You already know them well.

What makes some safety boots more comfortable than others?
The fit. And misconceptions that you are only ever one exact size across all types of footwear. There are about 22 billion pairs of shoes sold annually around the world. That’s almost 3 pairs for every single person on the planet. But being manufactured all around the globe means different designs, shapes and styles – all impacting on the 22 billion different types of foot. Fit is so crucial. And since all safety footwear comes with a toe cap – trying on the right size is even more important. Steel toe caps are known to rub against the feet, which can cause significant discomfort. So, when you purchase your work boots, always make sure to get the snuggest fit possible to reduce the risk of rubbing. And remember to lace-up your work boots to give you the best feel of what they will be like on your foot during the work day. Proper lacing also lifts the leather upper off the foot – raising the feeling of restriction over the bridge of your foot.

So, the day you get your new pair of safety boots or safety shoes… remember the following;

Dry your feet and wear clean and dry socks!
Moisture and comfort – aren’t comfortable. You want a dry pair of feet, with nothing moist or wet entering the safety footwear. Wet feet are a recipe for rubbing, blisters and irritation. Stretch out your socks and make sure to pull them on to fit correctly. If they aren’t angled onto your foot correctly – you will have thicker areas where you don’t want them and unnecessary fold build ups. This will all lead to comfort issues. Please ensure your socks aren’t full of holes either. The moment you see a hole – it’s time for a new pair of socks. High cotton content with polyamide blends are always the way to go.

Check if your innersole (footbed) is correctly positioned.
Place your hand inside the boot or shoe and make sure the footbed is correctly positioned, fitting neatly down upon on the insole board. No raises on the front, back or sides. Now slide your feet (covered in your sock) into the boot. And slowly and carefully move (slide) your foot back and forth. They must be in a position that suits the ergonomic design of the footbed. The last step is to securely tie your shoelaces so that they won’t loosen easily. Nice and tight – keeping the upper secure and that nice snug feeling. Not so tight as to cut off blood circulation. And not so loose that they are untied and slipping off – resulting in a lack of proper protection and a trip and fall causing injury.

Small, simple things which we take for granted in a rush. Ultimately leading to subjective complaints that can be easily rectified with an extra few seconds of one’s time to check the basics are done correctly and keeping the comfort factor front and centre.

For a chat about your work forces safety boot requirements please give us a call on +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032 or drop an email to organise a call

Safety boot soles

Safety Boots and how the sole is attached

An excellent question as there are many misconceptions about the sole of the shoe or boot being stuck on, glued on or stitched on. All of these processes are accurate for different types of fashion footwear, dress shoes, running shoes, sneakers and even veldskoen.

What is the PU injection process for safety boots?

Polyurethane injected footwear is injected as a liquid around the leather upper which is secured in a stainless steel footwear mould (shape and design of the sole pattern). The leather upper is already in the shape of a shoe or boot at this stage – with a fake plastic foot (called a last) holding the leather designed upper in place.

How does the hot liquid polyurethane bond to the leather upper?

In order for this hot liquid polyurethane to bond to the upper – it needs something to which to attach itself. In times past, this was done by hand – in some places in the world, it is still. But modern machinery enables a robot to perform the task of roughening the leather upper to expose the leather fibres just below the surface of the animal skin. These fibres are the those most important part of the process. The robotic arm, with an object referred to as a “roughening ball” attached to the end of its “hand” is programmed to lower the ball close enough to the upper; with enough pressure to remove the top surface layer (exposing those all import fibres) but not too deeply as to cut right through the leather upper. (Meaning not to slice right through the full thickness of the leather upper). It is a fairly intricate part of the process and very technical and detailed. Precision is key.

Roughening the leather for your safety boots

The robot is pre-programmed to understand it’s mission and course. It will have to roughen around the entire outer edge of the leather upper (toe, side, heel, side and back to the toe). It is also able to detect whether the leather is harder or softer, and knows the general thickness of the leather upper it is cutting. Parameters are changed depending on the style being roughened. This enables an accurate procedure. Once completed, a full outer edge of ‘just under the surface’ leather fibres are waiting to bond themselves to hot polyurethane liquid. They will essentially absorb some of this hot liquid, whilst the balance attaches to the exposed area. Once cooled – the bond integrity is absolutely superb. Offering a super strong bond and comfortable flexing.

What else do I need to know about this roughening process?

On the odd occasion, a roughening ball coming to the end of its lifespan (becoming too blunt) – and please note these are changed a few times a week (every couple of thousand of pairs) – can under-roughen a few pairs. This results in the PU coming loose from the leather upper after a few days of wearing. On the other end of the spectrum, a brand new roughening ball, which is super sharp can cut through a piece of soft leather – sometimes too far, perhaps 80-90% of the way through. This is called over-roughening and results in a perforation line sitting where the upper and PU meet. After wearing for a day or two the leather perforates along that line creating a perfect horizontal cut in the leather. Unfortunately, neither over or under roughening can be picked up in the quality control process due to the nature of the bond and leather being a natural product. But it is isolated and generally results in happening to maybe 5 out of 5000 pairs. Processes are getting better and robots are getting more modern. Many can now detect when the ball needs to be replaced. We see fewer cases as technology gets better.

How do I spot over-roughening and under-roughening on my safety boots?

As manufacturers we can see it very easily, and our Certified Partners receive training on how to identify these manufacturing related faults. A perfectly new boot or shoe, worn for a few days – easily shows one or the other roughening issue. It happens almost 99% of the time at the flex point of the boot or shoe – where your foot naturally bends the product when walking. When the PU pulls away from the leather and creates a small gap – you can either feel with your finger that the leather is totally smooth or visually see the areas in not roughened enough. This is clear under roughening. Often, the boot can still be worn without incident – but if the PU continues to pull away further, it can be returned for a new pair. And likewise, when a perfect 1-3cm perforation line forms on the PU/leather join after flexing – the leather perforates and creates a cut. It is neat, almost looks to be cut by a knife. This is clear over-roughening. Again – the pair can be replaced.

For a chat about your work forces safety boot requirements please give us a call on +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032 or drop an email to organise a call

Heat Resistant Outersoles

Most work environment applications are covered by the standard Polyurethane outsole. Lightweight, flexible, excellent slip resistance, heat resistance between 90’ and 110’ degrees, and durable. They are anti-static and also resistant to oil, petrol and diesel. Whether fruit picking, building on a construction site, working in an engineering environment or even on an oil rig – the tried and tested PU/PU sole has you covered. But what happens when the temperature gauge is turned up or petrol and diesel turns into acids or other chemicals? That’s when you switch to a more heavy duty sole compound in the form of rubber. Non-conductive to electricity, oil/acid/petrol and diesel resistant, 300’ degree heat resistant and very hard wearing. The sole compound plays a vital role in the longevity of your footwear.

It stands to reason, as the sole is in constant contact with the surface on which you walk and work. If you climb on scaffolding all day, work on abrasive metal surfaces, on concrete or jagged stones – the rubber sole will last longer and provide a more stable surface. As is the nature of more heavy duty environments – the risks associated in those areas increase as well, and often one needs the added protection of anti-penetration midsoles (to protect you from sharp shards of metal, glass, or heat) or to protect the bones of one’s feet.

ProFit Safety Footwear has a range of six different rubber soled styles to protect men and women from all the added dangers of a heavy duty work environment.

Hot surfaces, risky work surfaces, falling objects and chemical spills are a few of hazards which our Tarantula, Black Widow, Redback and Shamrock take in their stride. Coming with a variation of anti-perforation fabric midsoles, metatarsal guard and thick top grain leather uppers. And, offered in the full size range from UK 2 to UK 15, we cater for the needs of the entire workforce.

If you are upgrading your head, eye, ear, hands and workwear to deal with super heavy duty work environments, you should certainly do so with the most important part of your body walking around in that environment – your feet! Look for the HRO marking on the spec sheet/bottom of the sole or red colours on the sole indicating you are holding a boot designed with heat applications in mind. More expensive that Polyurethane, yes, but certainly purpose built and longer lasting. Suited for the right work environment and avoiding risk from Day 1.

For a chat about your work forces safety boot requirements please give us a call on +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032 or drop an email to organise a call

safety boots and shoes

Antistatic vs Non-Conductive vs Conductive

Your sole compound on your safety footwear can offer various and different grades of protection. Requesting safety footwear that simply conforms to ISO 20345:2014 is just the tip of the iceberg when assessing risk in your specific work environment.

When addressing the issue of anti-static safety boots, one clearly needs to understand the different compounds used to manufacture soles on safety footwear; Polyurethane (PU), Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Carbon Black (CB), and Rubber (RUB).

Each compound has different properties of slip resistance, heat resistance, chemical resistance and electro contact resistance.

One needs to understand ECR (Electro Contact Resistance). These graphs below will help understand OHMS and OHMS range.

ElectrocStatic Discharge

ElectrocStatic Discharge

The ohm is the standard international unit of measurement of electrical resistance – and covers 3 major areas : 1. CONDUCTIVE / 2. ANTI-STATIC & 3. NON-CONDUCTIVE (or INSULATING).

  • PU (Polyurethane) is anti-static. There is also a very special parameter within Polyurethane that sits in a very specific range of anti-static requirement called ESD (electro static discharge).
  • TPU is also anti-static.
  • Rubber is non-conductive. Used in environments where no electrical conductivity is allowed – resistance to high voltage / electrical / shock and spark.
  • Carbon black soled footwear is 100% fully-conductive and helps to protect the wearer in an environment where the accumulation of static electricity on the body can be a hazard. (Handling explosive or volatile materials). Conductive safety footwear is made with materials and cements that offer no electrical resistance.

There is no one safety boot that covers all 4 requirements in 1, nor can one be both non-conductive and anti-static at the same time.

So, it all has to do with the amount of charge build (static build up) up which is generated on the personnel and the effect that has in the working environment.

  • Rubber is non-conductive meaning no risk of electrical charge being earthed through the shoe. This is why companies at risk of standing on high voltage (or contact with high voltage) use rubber. We supply rubber soled footwear to many electrical contractors and electricians for the same purpose.
  • Carbon black however allows any and all electrical charge build up to continually and rapidly dissipate through the sole – allowing zero static build up.

There are a wide range of factors that can affect the amount of electrostatic charge that can build up as a voltage on personnel.

  • The floor material and its electrical resistance, and resistance-to-ground.
  • Atmospheric humidity.
  • The manner in which a person walks, e.g. scuffing and friction of the shoes against the floor.
  • Actions of brushing against furniture, sitting and rising from seats (A person wearing a wool sweater sitting on a man-made fibre chair may charge to a high voltage when they leave their seat).

Furthermore, PU (Polyurethane) has the best slip resistance ratings due to its softer more flexible compound (providing better grip). Rubber has slip resistant properties, but is harder and therefore less flexible and won’t have as higher slip resistant ratings. Again, the need to assess liquids on various surfaces needs to be taken into account when choosing footwear for different work environments.

Always familiarise yourself with specific needs in your work environment and the associated risks.

Salt Spew

Salt Spues and Fatty Blooms

Gasp! Shock! Horror! Have you ever opened a brand new box of leather shoes or boots, which you purchased a few months ago – only to find what looks like a white mould on the leather upper? Either in a small amoeba like pattern or streaky lines? You need not panic nor throw a tantrum. Not everything located on the surface of your leather footwear is mould. In fact, in the case of a FMCG like safety footwear – 99.9% of the time you are in fact dealing with oils or salts migrating from within the leather and crystalising on the surface. It is quite a common occurence.

Is this mould on my leather boots?

To distinguish the one from the other, we must rule out the obvious. If you have turned your beautiful leather boots into gumboots and paraded around in knee deep water all day, and then tossed them into a damp and cold environment for a week or two… and they start to smell – then yes, your boots (leather is a natural material, a deceased animal skin!) probably smell like mildew and you have a fungus or bacteria growing on the leather. (Like a piece of old white bread, this growth will be far larger spread, thicker and green/yellow in colour. But, the smell will be the giveaway.) This is mould. And you should have taken more care of your expensive leather safety boots.

What is a Salt Spue or a Fatty Bloom?

But, if this new pair of boots hasn’t been near moisture and are indeed brand new (and all you smell is that beautiful, rich, natural leather aroma) then you are most certainly dealing with a Salt Spue or a Fatty Bloom. If you have stored your new purchase for a while, wanting to get your last few kilometres or even months out of your last pair, you may be met with this white substance. You have nothing to fear. It is a direct result of the fats, oils and waxes used during the tanning process. And happens due to either a rapid temperature shift (hot to cold / or vice versa as we experience in seasonal changes) or high humidity – these salts, oils and waxes move to the surface. They migrate through the layers in the leather skin (leather upper), and crystalise upon the exposed surface.

It can happen to any type of tanned, oily leather product; wallets, shoes, jackets, pants and even belts. It is not harmful to the product at all, but unfortunately doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing – immediately resulting in the purchase being deemed bad quality or returned. This is not the case.

We often show our clients that it is salt, but touching the small “pinky” finger to the tongue and then touching the spue, and touching the tongue again. Often the salt can be detected in taste. But, you don’t need to be a detective or private investigator to fix the issue. It is very simple to remove and resolve.

How To Clean Salt Spue from Leather Boots?

The boots are new, so firstly you could rub them down (like when polishing) with a dry cloth or small towel (even the branded ProFit fabric wrapping inside the box works). The rubbing resistance, and heat, will start to remove the white and the spue or bloom will disappear. If you have some time on your hands, and the weather is suitable – place them inside a comfortable warm or heated room or even in the sunlight. Natural warmth will cause the spue to disappear as it is drawn back into the leather and dries. But NEVER place the boots or shoes next to a direct heat source like a fire place, nor try and speed dry on a heater or with a hot hair-dryer. You will damage the leather. Natural sunlight or warmth is the best option. Then give the product a good polish with a commercially available shoe polish (Plush, Lion, Kiwi, Nugget, etc) or a bees wax or dubbin, or even a leather food or leather oil.


Walking through small puddles of water or being caught in a rain downpour often wets the leather uppers as well, and one can see lines appearing around the shoe or boot where the height of the water reached. This is again an example of the salts used during the tanning process coming towards the surface. It can even happen on a very hot day where you have been very sweaty, or sweated a great deal inside your footwear. (Commonly seen on the area of a leather belt which sits in the middle of your back!) But a simple, good polish will remove these natural tanning agents. And polishing always means maintenance, longevity and a longer lifespan for your boots or shoes. It’s a win-win scenario.


We never stop learning! Talk to the professionals at ProFit Safety Footwear for more helpful hints and tips on understandinhg leather and safety footwear. We are at your service.

Safety Boots

Safety Footwear A Brief History

Where and when did safety footwear begin? Why was it invented? And what should I be looking for today?

The Origins of Safety Footwear

Interestingly enough, safety footwear can track its origins back to the beginning of the 18th century, when industrial safety workwear first became an issue. Previously it was cheaper to replace an injured worker than to introduce safety measures. The first ‘protective boots’ were wooden, called sabots. It was a simple shoe, shaped and hollowed out from a block of wood, traditionally worn by peasants in Europe. Similar to clogs. These protected workers from falling objects, protected farmers on the field from sharp objects and protected toes in case cattle stepped on them. During the industrial revolution, workers used sabots to destroy machinery by throwing them into the gears of factories to stop production. This is how the word sabotage originated.

When Were Safety Boots Invented?

Safety boots were officially “invented” with a steel tip at the front, at the end of World War II in Germany. At the start of the war, leather protective boots were used by civilians (as leather offered abrasion resistance, a level of heat resistance and shelter from the elements) and military personnel wore those same boots which were called Marschstiefels (Marching Boots). By the end of War World II, a steel tip was introduced at the front of these boots. Particularly for the engineers working on machinery and vehicles used during battle. And the first steel toe cap boots began moving into the industrial workplace, at a time when people started addressing industrial safety issues. Laws were officially implemented and liability costs forced large companies to start focusing on having equipment that was safer to use than before. In the 1930s, Red Wing Shoes Company started commercially dealing in large volumes of steel toe boots. And mass production began in 1970, when the US Congress adopted the Occupational Safety & Health Act for workplace safety – and these standards were enforced by law. These standards included those that required the use of protective footwear in areas that posed the threat of foot injuries. Today it is a mandatory requirement in many industries like construction and mining.

Reinforced Boots & Shoes

Safety footwear are commonly boots and shoes made with a protective reinforcement at the front making them more durable in harsher work industries. The reinforcement helps to protect the toes from falling objects or over-toe compression. The reinforcement is normally made of steel, hence they are colloquially known as steel toe cap boots. Foot protection will guard your toes, ankles and feet from injury. Each foot contains 26 bones for support and 33 joints for movement. Feet also have more than a hundred; muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounded by blood vessels and nerves. This explains very simply why it hurts when you stub your toe or drop something on your foot. Your feet are a critical part of your body which is used every day and enables you to do your job more effectively.

Protective Footwear

Protective footwear worn in different workplaces are designed to protect the foot from physical hazards such as falling objects, stepping on sharp objects, heat and cold, wet and slippery surfaces, or exposure to corrosive chemicals. Whilst the toe cap protects from falling objects and compression dangers, some designs are installed with a steel plate in the middle of the sole to prevent against punctures or penetration that may come from glass, nails or metal shards from below. These are called puncture resistant midsoles and often come in steel or very strong materials like Kevlar fabric. The varying leather upper designs protect from the elements (heat and cold) and work environment dangers like chemicals. The bottom of the shoe which comes into contact with the surface upon which one walks, is called the outer sole or simply the sole; and this construction and design compound safeguards against wet and slippery surfaces, as well as oils/acids/diesel/petrol and other chemicals.

Foot Injuries In The Workplace

Work related foot injuries can be broken down into two main categories. The first category includes foot injuries from punctures, crushing, sprains, and severe cuts. They account for 10 to 15 % of all reported disabling injuries. The second group of injuries includes those resulting from slips, trips, and falls. They account for up to 20% percent of all reported disabling injuries. Slips and falls do not always result in a foot injury, but lack of attention to foot safety plays an important role in their occurrence.

What To Look For When Buying Safety Boots & Shoes

When purchasing safety footwear there are numerous things to take into account and think about prior to purchase. Most importantly; when sizing – the footwear should always offer a snug fit, with the heel being gripped firmly. This prevents the foot from slipping inside when walking. And the forepart should allow free movement of the toes. The sole design should have numerous low and wide contact points with the surface upon which they walk, providing solid grip. Whilst leather uppers may stretch and even be broken in over time, steel toe caps will not stretch. Always have both feet measured when buying shoes – feet normally differ in size between the left and right. Even by a small margin. But you should always by a size which will fit the bigger foot. It is always recommended to buy shoes late in the afternoon, when feet are likely to be at their largest; swollen to their maximum size after a full day’s work. Gravity and blood flow contribute up to a 7% difference in foot size between waking up in the morning (and standing on your feet for the first time) – until after being on your feet after a full work day. Soft, comfortable and padded shock absorbing insoles should always be looked at inside the boot or shoe as a definitive requirement if your job requires a lot of walking or standing on hard floors for extended hours.

Picking The Right Footwear

Using the proper safety footwear, suited to the specific work environment is critically important, not only for foot comfort but also for one’s general well-being in the workplace. Improperly sourced footwear can cause or aggravate existing foot problems. And unfortunately, being fashionable sometimes takes precedence over choosing well-fitting, supportive and industry specific, protective safety footwear. Fashion should never be the first factor in choice.

Safety footwear for the workplace offers many kinds of protection for workers but most importantly one has to remember the fundamental principle of occupational health and safety: those occupational hazards should be eliminated at the source. The role of PPE (personal protective equipment) is to minimise exposure to specific occupational hazards, not to eliminate them. Therefore, safety footwear does not guarantee total protection.

When viewing a range of products, always ensure the shoe or boot of choice addresses the work environment and covers all risks in that environment, relating to protection from falling objects and static objects, puncture and penetration protection, cutting hazards, electrical and static hazard, slips, trips and falls, foot fatigue prevention, heat or chemical burn prevention, weather (elements) and water protection. No leather footwear is 100% waterproof or insulated to provide protection against the cold, rain and snow. Be sure to select specialised options that are made from appropriate materials. A simple error is made numerous times a day where a leather safety boot is purchased for a very wet or water based work environment; where a PVC gumboot would address the work condition far more effectively and at a more cost effective price.

Speak to the professionals who are happy to guide your selection: : : +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032

Different Styles of Safety Boots

Why The Need for Different Styles of Safety Footwear

One of the questions we field multiple times on a daily basis is “What is the cheapest safety boot you have available”. For years a grudge spend with many companies needing to simply comply to safety standards. The mindset is, a boot is a boot is a boot and budgets have been set for the cheapest product available.

Whilst price is important, the wrong boot placed in the wrong work environment can become a safety hazard and a very expensive injury or liability. Different sites have different risks. As we educate safety officers and procurement managers around Southern Africa; I have begun calling this the “bird sanctuary mentality”. As all you hear is “cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep”. Selling a cheap boot simply because you want an order and a sale, is not something safety footwear experts allow or accept.

Which Safety Boot Should I Pick?

Most companies believe all safety shoes and boots are manufactured exactly the same way, from exactly the same materials, and all have the same functionality and features. This is the worst misconception in the safety footwear industry. It’s important to solve problems, not only sell products. And this is the reason our range comprises of 22 different safety boots and safety shoes for both men and women. We cater for an entry level econo (short term contractors), the mid-range bulk purchase, the specialist need and the top end heavy duty style. Various grades of leather, altering leather substance, variations in water repellent properties, scuff resistance, longevity of the sole, variance in heat resistance, puncture resistant properties, flexibility of the sole (check our blog post on different sole compounds for more information on this), lace up or slip-on, height of ankle protection, different grades of biomechanical footbeds and innersoles, resistance to oils, acids, petrol and diesel, higher levels of slip ratings, chemical resistant ratings, suitability for welding and metatarsal guard protection.

The Right Safety Boot For The Right Job

Every risk in one’s work environment needs to be addressed to find out which boot meets the minimum standard required in that particular work environment. Some companies have up to 4 or 5 different needs within their own company. One boot most certainly doesn’t fit all work environments when it comes to safety footwear. Otherwise every company would only sell 1 boot and 1 shoe style. We make different boots suited for different work environments aimed predominantly at the food and beverage industry, road laying, chemical manufacture, engineering, construction, mining, warehousing, automotive, agriculture and different departments in municipality.

Quality Safety Shoes – You Get What You Pay For

Going the cheapest route, 90% of the time results in having to buy each employee 3 or 4 pairs of boots a year. Giving safety footwear and safety footwear brands a negative reputation. This is unfortunately unfounded. Because cheap boots are purchased for an entire workforce for R275 per pair. Where, if assessed and recommended, one could find a suitable product fit for that environment which carries a 1 year manufacturing warranty for R600 per pair. Penny wise, pound foolish. The right boot would end up being more cost effective in the long run and last for longer. Ultimately in this example saving the company more than R500 per employee over a financial year. It pays to make smarter decisions earlier on and allow professionals to assist your choice making.

Let The Safety Boot Experts Guide You

ProFit Safety Footwear has a highly experienced team and we only work with distributors who like to offer solutions, not just collect orders and move boxes. Why use an entry level boot with laces when your company specialises in welding? Why use a safety shoe with exposed metals on the upper when you work in the automotive sector? And why use a boot that only has a 90 degree heat resistance if you are laying road (bitumen/tar) or working in a smelter? Choose the right product from the beginning and allow us to help stop making safety footwear a grudge spend. The experts are here to help.

Contact the team today to get advice on the best design and style of safety shoe for your work environment – or give us a call on +27 11 892 8030