If you work in an area where there is danger of foot injury, your employer will require you to wear personal protective equipment. This includes footwear such as safety toe boots. These boots protect your feet from falling or rolling objects, anything that can pierce the sole of your foot and electrical hazards. This type of boot is designed with an internal toe box that resists impact or compression.
The toe box in most safety boots is either steel or composite. Some alloy metals such as aluminum or titanium are used as well. This guide compares composite toe boots with steel toe boots so you can decide which offers the protection you need.
Composite Toe Boots
Composite toe boots are made from strong non-metal materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, plastic or fiberglass. Because they have no metal, composite toe boots are great for work sites that use metal detectors. They also offer better resistance, making them a popular choice for electricians and engineers.
Composite toe boots are lightweight, about 30 percent lighter than steel toe boots. They often include comfort technology built into the design so you can wear them comfortably for longer periods of time. Composite toe boots are the better choice for outdoor weather since they are less affected by ambient temperature than steel toe boots.
While they are up to safety standards, composite toe boots do not withstand the same level of impact as a steel toe boot.
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Steel Toe Boots
Steel toe boots offer more protection than composite toe boots since they can withstand higher impact. They are less expensive than composite toe boots. However, steel toe boots are heavier and do not breathe as well as composite toe boots. This makes them less comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Some people are reluctant to wear steel toe boots because of a persistent myth across many industries that receiving an impact on steel toe boots can damage the wearer’s toes. This has been repeatedly proven false.
In some industries, safety toe boots are a requirement of employment. The employer will often specify what type of boot to wear.
Footwear standards are included in the personal protective equipment section of the U.S. Office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines. OSHA’s guidelines for impact and compression follow the standards developed by ASTM International, an international organization that develops and publishes safety standards.
Once you determine the safety requirements you need for your job, there are a variety of work boots to choose from. These include: