To the untrained eye, safety boot ratings can look like nothing more than a bunch of letters and numbers chosen at random by shoe manufacturers.

But safety boot ratings are in fact a legal safety requirement by your employer. It ensures that your shoes are offering you adequate protection on the job - against heat, penetration, electrical and other elements.

Understanding the meaning behind these ratings will help you get the most out of your safety footwear, and keep you safe on the job. Below is a breakdown of the most common ratings:

Safety Basic (SB)- This is the toe protection rating, tested with 200J impact and 15Hn compression force to ensure maximum protection

S1 - An S1 rating includes the safety features provided by SB, as well as features from E, A, and FO. This means that you’re receive antistatic protection, an energy absorbent heel, fuel oil resistant outer sole, as well as toe protection

S2 - Includes all the safety features as S1 footwear, plus a water resistant upper

S3 - This includes all the features of S2 footwear, as well as midsole protection to protect against sharp objects (P)

P - These shoes protect the midsole against sharp objects, such as potential protrusions (e.g. nails). P-rated footwear can withstand forces of penetration up to 1,100Nm, and use either Kevlar insoles, aluminium or steel inserts

Weather Resistant Upper (WRU) - This safety boot is water resistant

Water Resistant (WR) - This shoe is fitted with a water resistant upper

Fuel Oil (FO) - The outer sole of this boot is resistant to Fuel Oil

Antistatic (A) - This rating provides anti-static protection. These boots offer electrical resistance between foot and ground, ranging from 0.1- 1000 MegaOhms

Energy Absorption (E) - Safety footwear with this rating are generally rather comfortable shoes. The energy absorption level on the heel is around 20J, designed to keep you comfortable during long shifts.

Heat Resistant Outsole (HRO) - These shoes are manufactured using a compound that has been tested at 300°C, ensuring its heat resistance levels

Antistatic Protection (A) – A-rating safety footwear offers electrical resistance between the foot and the ground. This ranges from 0.1 to 1000 MegaOhms

SRA / SRB / SRC - These are ranges of slip resistant shoes. SRA footwear is tested with NaLS lubricant on tiles. SRB footwear is tested with glycerol lubricant on steel, and SRC is tested with both SRA and SRB lubricants.

Now that you know all the ratings, you’ll be able to carefully consider the type of protection you need for your level of work.

Scruff’s extensive range of safety footwear will help you properly equip yourself with the best footwear to get the job done.

Asad Ali is managing director at Scruff's.