For professionals who tend to work in a hazardous environment, there is a need to protect the entire body, and the feet are no exception to this. Selecting the perfect work shoe is a major step towards your safety, and an excellent choice available for you is the steel toe boots.
Also known as safety boots, they are a critical and most often a mandatory part of your workplace safety protocol. Although popular as steel toe boots, these safety shoes come in different materials and functionalities.
Regardless of the safety work boots you buy, they must be comfortable enough for you to work and move around with ease. Before we understand the different types of steel toe work boots available, let us understand what steel toe boots are.
What are steel-toe boots?
Steel-toe boots or steel-capped boots are durably designed shoes that come with protective reinforcements added to the toe area. These shoes’ primary function is to protect your foot from any compression or falling objects in the workplace.
Traditionally, these boots are created from steel. However, with changes in requirements and safety mandates, today, steel-toe boots are available in different forms that have been listed below.
This classic option for safety at the workplace has been in the market for quite some time. Most workers tend to opt for this variant as they come cheaper and are more accessible as compared to fresher options.
Steel-toe boots can easily eliminate any risk from falling objects, heavy machinery, or similar materials. These boots are ideal for workers in the construction industry or the ones that deal with hazardous equipment.
However, the only issue with the steel toe boots is that they could be very heavy and would drag you down when you indulge in long shifts.
Safety shoes made up of aluminium-toe or alloy-toe provide access to a lightweight design that can be 30-50% lighter than steel-toe boots. Even though they are light in weight, these safety boots provide just as much safety as compared to steel-toe boots. Not just that, aluminium toe boots are known to provide more toe room for wearers as it is thinner as compared to steel.
3-Composite Toe (Non-Metal):
The composite-toe-based work boots contain a non-metallic variant of safety toe cap that tends to be way lighter than steel or aluminium-toe boots. Composite is an amazing option for the ones who give utmost importance to safety. These toe caps also have enhanced electrical resistance and help you avoid any shocks in the work environment.
Given the fact that the steel toe boots are free of any metals, they don’t conduct cold or heat and could be perfect for someone working in extremely low or high temperatures.
4-Carbon Nanofiber Toe:
The safety boots with carbon nanofiber toe material tend to be the lightest & most advanced in terms of protection as compared to any boot variant available in the market. These boots weigh about 50% less than steel & 40% less than standard composite caps.
Safety Criteria for Steel Toe Boots in Different Countries
The common safety standards used by the U.S. are ASTM International F2412-18a & ASTM F2413. Footwear that is certified by ASTM must include labels that indicate safety standards such as:
- EH-Electrical Hazard
- Mt- Metatarsal
- PR-Puncture Resistant
- SD- Static Dissipating
The common safety standards used in Canada are CSA Group standards. Here are some labels indicated on safety footwear in Canada that could help you detect footwear suited to your safety needs:
- CSA Symbol+ Green Triangle:
This particular symbol suggests that the sole of the boot is puncture-resistant along with a 1st Grade toe protection. It is ideal for a work environment involving machine shops or construction and places involving sharp objects.
- Registered Symbol+ Yellow Triangle:
These boots feature a puncture-resistant sole along with Grade 2 toe protection which is meant for light work environments.
- CSA Symbol + Orange Omega Letter+ White Rectangle:
The soles in these shoes provide resistance from electric shock and are perfect for any industrial workplace with the possibility of electrical hazard.
- CSA Symbol + Grounding Symbol + Yellow Rectangle + S.D. In Green Colors:
This shoe is capable of dispersing any electrical charge in an even manner.
- CSA Symbol + Grounding Symbol + C in Black Color + Red Rectangle:
The shoes have electrically conductive soles and are perfect for workers where a low-power charge could be disastrous.
- CSA Symbol + White Label + Green-Colored Fir Tree:
These shoes are ideal for workers that use chainsaws in their work environment, such as forestry.
- CSA Symbol + Blue Square:
These boots offer only grade 1 protection in the toe area.
The European standard safety for workplace footwear is provided by the ISO or International Organization for Standardization. The current standard is ISO 20345:2011, which previously was ISO 20345:2004.
The codes for European work boots are:
Steel Toe- S.B.– Avoid any impact from 200 joules force which also includes compression of 15000 newtons
Steel Toe-S1- Toecap protection up to 200 joules along with antistatic properties, fuel resistance, and energy absorption
Steel Toe-S2- Provides 200 joules protection in the toe cap area along with features such as energy absorption, antistatic properties, fuel resistance, and water resistance
Steel-Toe-S3- Along with all other features mentioned above, these shoes also provide resistance from sole penetration or cleated outsole
Additional Protection Features
1-HRO: Outsole with heat-resistance
2-P: Penetration resistance up to 1100 newtons
3-E: Energy absorption in heel area up to 20 joules
4-WRU: Uppers with resistance to water penetration
5-WR: Entire shoe is waterproof
7-AN: Ankle protection
8-O: Maximum conduction resistance to 100 kΩ
9-A: Antistatic protection between ranges 100 kΩ-1000 kΩ
10-CI: Cold insulation protection
11-HI: Heat insulation protection
12-SRA: Skid-resistant design (Ceramic tiles)
13-SRB: Skid-resistant design (Steel floors)
14-SRC: Skid-resistant design (Ceramic tiles with glycerine-based cleaning agents)
15-FO: Fuel resistance
16-CR: Cut resistance
- China: An1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & GB 21148
- Japan: JIS T8101
- Indonesia: SNI 0111:2009
- Singapore: SS 513-1: 2005
- Malaysia: SIRIM MA 1598: 1998
- India: IS 15298: 2011, IS 15298-III, IS 15298-IV, IS 15298-II
- Thailand: TIS 523: 2011
- NZS/AS 2210.3: 2009
Quick Facts About Steel Toe Boots
There are several facts associated with steel toe boots that you must know before you buy one for your workwear. So, let us get into some of these amazing facts about your safety boots.
- Steel toe boots were originally invented in Germany post World War II
- In the United Kingdom, workers must wear safety or steel toe boots in any hazardous environment
- Steel toe boots are meant to help you evade lacerations, falling objects, or chemicals
- Safety steel toe boots undergo stringent testing measures to ensure that they adhere to the standards
Myths Associated with Steel Toe Boots
Although steel toe boots are popular among workers and safety seekers, there are multiple myths that have been doing the rounds in the market. Several folks are under the misconception that steel toe boots actually do more harm as opposed to protecting you.
According to the myth, it is stated that this falling weight needs to be higher than a registered amount to bend the flat section of its cap, which would finally cut the toes.
While there might be some truth to this myth, there is a condition that must be put in place. Steel toe boots come with specifications that state how heavy a load they can handle before they bend or break into the toes. Most high-quality steel toe boots can easily handle as heavy as 6000lbs pressure before giving up.
However, considering that a weight falling on your shoes would surely cause crushing or need for amputation, it is safer to wear the steel toe boots as opposed to opting for the normal variants.
The bottom line
The prime consideration to keep in mind is that the steel-toe boots must adhere to the ASTM standards for safety. Furthermore, it is important to check whether the foot is comfortable within the boots when being worn for long hours. It would ensure that you can focus on your work without actually worrying about your toe being crushed due to constricted design.
Consider these factors when going out on a safety boot shopping spree:
- When hunting for a safety boot within a moderate or high budget along with a lightweight design, you could go for the composite toe boots. It is also ideal for providing you warmth in the winter months.
- In case you are restricted with your budget & a longer or slimmer toe is the profile you are looking for, make sure you purchase the steel toe boots.
- You could go with the aluminium toe boots for someone with a higher budget & no need for warmth in the winter months. Moreover, these boots are fairly light in weight and don’t weigh you down.
So, shop your safety steel toe boot the next time, keeping these factors in mind!
William has hands-on experiences with construction sites, and the hazards employees face while working. He has been a dedicated worker since 1995 and is currently looked up to by many of his subordinates for the work he has done throughout his tenure. He has passed several certifications regarding safety at the workplace, including OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Silica in Construction Certificate, and the National Association of Safety Professionals Certification.
He has ample experience in woodwork and welding and understands the importance of a tough work boot in dangerous occupational environments. His achievements, experience, and knowledge allow him to be an expert in the field of work boots. He selects and tries all the products that he reviews and presents to his readers. As per him, the safety of the boot is beyond the beauty of it. He carefully scrutinizes each aspect of work boots, including flex, laces, length, breathability, strength, and more.