safety protection and Security: How to Choose the Right Safety Equipment

Safety shoes, safety helmets, protective gloves, respiratory masks, face shields, and much more: personal protection in the workplace is becoming increasingly important, and more and more regulations are being introduced to reduce the risk of accidents. Therefore, when it comes to purchasing personal protective equipment, it is important to carefully analyze your own needs and gather information on the applicable regulations to choose high-quality, certified products that are suitable for the type of work being performed.

What are the safety standards for PPE? What do the standards for personal protective equipment mean? Let's find out together.

Safety standards for safety shoes and helmets

How to Choose the Best Safety Helmet

Not all safety helmets are the same, and each one must comply with specific regulations in order to be considered suitable for use in the workplace. Regulations may vary from country to country, and sometimes even based on geographical areas. In Europe, there are four standards that define the level of protection provided by a helmet, the type of helmet, and the recommended/mandatory areas of use.
Let's take a look at the standards for safety helmets:

UNI EN 812: This is the simplest headgear designed to provide protection against light impacts that could cause superficial injuries. These types of helmets are ideal for domestic work (such as plumbing, maintenance, and repairs) or for industrial environments, particularly in the food industry, due to their ease of sanitization. They provide limited coverage and protect against minimal risks in generally safe environments.

UNI EN 397: This standard applies to standard protective helmets, which consist of a durable protective shell and a harness designed to absorb impacts in the event of a worker's fall, falling objects, or contact with sharp objects. This industry-standard helmet is equipped with a chin strap and frontal adjustment. It is ideal for use in construction sites and the building industry.

EN 14502: This is a high-performance element capable of absorbing stronger impacts and resisting the penetration of sharp objects. It may resemble the standard helmet described in the previous standard, but it is actually much more resistant and suitable for hazardous work environments.

This industrial protective helmet is equipped with a chin strap and front adjustment. The standard helmet is ideal for construction sites and the building industry.

EN 14502: a high-performance element capable of absorbing stronger impacts and resisting the penetration of very sharp objects. It aesthetically resembles the standard helmet complying with the previous standard, but it is actually much more resistant and suitable for hazardous work.

EN 50365 and EN 397: the helmets compliant with these regulations are the only ones resistant to electric current and are designed to protect the worker against short-duration exposures to voltages up to 440 volts. For even higher safety, there is the UNI EN 13087 standard, which protects against alternating current charges up to 100 volts and direct current up to 1500 volts.
In particular:

  • UNI EN 1387-7 (2002): Protective helmets - Test methods - Flame resistance
  • UNI EN 13087-8 (2006): Protective helmets - Test methods - Electrical properties
  • UNI EN 13087-10 (2012): Protective helmets - Test methods - Radiant heat resistance

It is important not to underestimate the color of the helmet, which can help distinguish roles within a construction site or company and make the worker highly visible. In situations of poor visibility, it is recommended to choose brightly colored helmets such as yellow or red, and if necessary, equip them with additional accessories such as torches or reflective elements.

Safety shoes: which ones to choose and what do the acronyms mean

Even safety shoes are classified based on their level of protection and general characteristics, distinguishing themselves by resistance and shape, allowing you to choose the most suitable ones for your workplace.

What are the levels of protection for shoes:

  • SB (formerly S0 standard): It is the basic level of protection, offering the least amount of protection compared to other levels. It is equipped with a 200 Joule steel toe cap for toe protection, meeting the main safety requirements of EN 345 standard.
  • S1 (formerly 01 standard): Antistatic sole with energy absorption in the heel area. They are divided into:
    S1: Does not have a puncture-resistant plate
    S1P: Has a steel puncture-resistant plate
    S1PL: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 4.5 mm nails (Large)
    S1PS: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 3 mm nails (Small)
  • S2 (formerly 02 standard): S1 + slight water resistance provided by a leather upper (or similar materials) capable of resisting water permeability for a maximum of 60 minutes.
  • S3 (formerly 03 standard): S2 + puncture-resistant plate. They are divided into:
    S3: Has a steel puncture-resistant plate
    S3L: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 4.5 mm nails (Large)
    S3S: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 3 mm nails (Small)
  • S4: Water resistance (WRU)
  • S5: S4 + puncture-resistant plate. They are divided into:
    S5: Has a steel puncture-resistant plate
    S5L: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 4.5 mm nails (Large)
    S5S: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 3 mm nails (Small)
  • S6: Extra water resistance (WR). They are divided into:
    S6: Does not have a puncture-resistant plate
    S6P: Has a steel puncture-resistant plate
    S6L: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 4.5 mm nails (Large)
    S6S: Has a Metal Free puncture-resistant plate for 3 mm nails (Small)
  • S7: S6 + anti-perforation insert. They are divided into:
    S7: Have steel anti-perforation insert.
    S7L: Have Metal Free anti-perforation insert for 4.5mm nails (Large).
    S7S: Have Metal Free anti-perforation insert for 3mm nails (Small).

Slip resistance classes - EN 13287 standard (2012):

SRA: Slip resistance on ceramic floor with water and detergent.
SRB: Slip resistance on steel floor with glycerin.
SRC: SRA + SRB.

Risk protection - 20345:2022 standard:

P: Puncture-resistant insert.
E: Energy absorption in the heel.
WR: Water resistance (improvement of WRU).
WRU/WPA: Upper resistant to water penetration from 2023.
AN: Ankle protection.
M: Metatarsal protection.
HRO: Sole resistant to contact heat of 300°C for 1 minute.
HI: Heat insulation up to 150°C.
CI: Cold insulation up to -17°C.
FO: Oil-resistant sole.
ESD: Protection against electrostatic discharge.
A: Electrostatic footwear.
C: Conductive footwear (electricity).
CR: Cut resistance.
SRA: Slip resistance on ceramic floor with water and detergent.
SRB: Slip resistance on steel floor with glycerin.
SRC: Combination of SRA + SRB.
DGUV112-191: Orthopedic insole adaptation.
SC: Toe abrasion resistance.
LG: Sole with detached heel for grip on ladder rungs.

The last characteristic that we consider essential to highlight in a safety shoe is its resistance to electrical discharge, characterized by the abbreviation ESD (ElectroStatic Discharge), which indicates a discharge of static energy passing from one body to another and is risky in work environments as it can ignite fires, even if weak, in the presence of flammable materials. These shoes are recommended in environments where work is done with microchips, sensitive electrical component production, painting, laboratory work, medical field, and when working in contact with flammable liquids and gases.

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