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Changes to the safety footwear perforation resistance standards explained

Arco’s Lab Manager, Alastair Hopkin, offers advice and guidance on the recently updated BS EN ISO 22568:2019, and what this means for UK businesses.     

Earlier this year BS EN ISO 12568:2011 was superseded and replaced with the BS EN ISO 22568:2019 series of standards. These documents cover the requirements and test methods for protective toecaps and perforation resistant inserts used as components in safety footwear.

The updated standard BS EN ISO 22568-4:2019 is a revised test method for non-metallic inserts with resistance against mechanical perforation. Inserts are placed inside the sole of a safety boot to offer added protection against penetration by sharp objects such as nails. An updated test method has been created to better simulate the risks posed to workers from smaller diameter and sharper objects. 

The new update does not yet invalidate any current products on the market as the two other safety footwear standards in the series still reference the superseded component standard, however, this new update when fully implemented will be considered industrywide as best practice. It’s important to know that once these standards are revised (which is expected late 2019 or early 2020), any footwear being certified will need to use components that meet the requirements of the new BS EN ISO 22568:2019 standard.

The updated test method

Following the update, there are now two test methods within BS EN ISO 22568:2019; Type Y and Type X. Type Y is the existing test method and utilises a broad conical nail, whereas the newer Type X uses a narrow pyramidal nail.

Both tests are carried out in the same way, by placing a sample between two platens and pressing a nail against it at a speed of (10±3) mm/min whilst measuring the force. During Type Y testing, if the opposite surface has been perforated or there is separation between the layers of the test piece at an applied force of 1100 N, it has failed. However, with the Type X test the nail is driven through the insert and five maximum force measurements are taken. The average value reported should be greater or equal to 1100N. Due to the timing of the update, the majority of non-metallic penetration inserts available on the market will not meet the new Type X test, so in the future they will either need to be redesigned with new components or recertified as Type Y.

What this means for you

Although the update now ensures the standard is more appropriate for those facing hazards from smaller objects, it is considered ‘best practice’ and doesn’t currently invalidate any products certified to the superseded standard.

Arco recommends that those working in environments where hazards from smaller diameter and sharper objects such as high tensile nails are present such as construction sites, should be using footwear with metallic inserts or alternatively, when available, select footwear with non-metallic inserts that meet the Type X test method. Before providing PPE to a workforce, employers should review their risk assessments to identify potential hazards in the workplace, which will help specify the type of footwear required. As the number of non-fatal injuries within construction is 50% higher compared to other industries, it is even more vital industry bosses provide sufficient protection.  As with all PPE, products are not suitable for every situation, employers need to avoid underspecifying and/or over-specifying.

For those who require more information regarding the recent update, or require advice on which footwear they should be providing, please either contact a local Arco branch or visit www.arco.co.uk

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