A pair of well-worn steel-toe shoes
A pair of ISO 20345:2004 compliant S3 safety boots

A steel-toe boot (also known as a safety boot, steel-capped boot, steel toecaps or safety shoe) is a durable boot or shoe that has a protective reinforcement in the toe which protects the foot from falling objects or compression. Safety shoes are effective in keeping the feet of industrial workers safe from sharp and heavy objects while working in factories.[1]

Safety footwear now comes in many styles, including sneakers, clogs, and dress shoes. Some are quite formal, for supervising engineers who must visit sites where protective footwear is mandatory.[2]

Some brands of steel-toe footwear have become fashionable within subcultures such as skinhead, punk, and rivethead. While brands that were previously renowned within the fashion industry have also diversified into the safety footwear market, industrial brands like Caterpillar, Rock Fall and JCB have also issued licenses to produce safety footwear.

Safety criteria


Safety shoes with removable polymer metatarsal guards

Safety shoe standards in Asia are:


A pair of ISO 20345:2004 compliant anti-static shoes
A pair of ISO 20345:2004 compliant S3 HRO HI CI FPA safety boots for firefighters featuring a laced in quickzip boot closure
Several types of traditional Dutch whole feet clogs are ISO 20345:2004 compliant S3 safety shoes.


The International Organization for Standardization provides the European standard for safety footwear. The current one is ISO 20345:2011 - previously ISO 20345:2004.

The codes applicable to European safety footwear are:

Protected area Type of protection Code
Steel toe Basic Impact 200 joules including compression 15,000 newtons SB
200 joule toecap protection. Closed seat region (fully enclosed heel). Antistatic properties. Energy absorption of seat region. Fuel resistance. S1
200 joule toecap protection. Closed seat region (fully enclosed heel). Antistatic properties. Energy absorption of seat region. Fuel resistance. Water penetration and water absorption resistance. S2
200 joule toecap protection. Closed seat region (fully enclosed heel). Antistatic properties. Energy absorption of seat region. Fuel resistance. Water penetration and water absorption resistance. Sole penetration resistance. Cleated outsole. S3
Additional protections Heat-Resistant Outsole: shoe sole resistance to hot contact up to 300 °C for 1 minute HRO
Penetration resistance offered by a steel midsole: 1100 newtons P
Heel energy absorption: 20 joules E
Water penetration-resistant uppers WRU
Whole shoe waterproof WR
Metatarsal protection M
Ankle protection AN
Electrical resistance Conductive: Maximum resistance 100 kΩ O
Antistatic: Range of 100 kΩ to 1000 MΩ A
Hostile environments Cold Insulated: shoe insulated against cold to -17 °C for 30 minutes CI
Heat Insulated: shoe insulated against heat up to 150 °C for 30 minutes HI
Skid resistance on ceramic tile floors with sodium lauryl sulfate solution cleaning agent SRA
Skid resistance on steel floors with glycerine SRB
Skid resistance on ceramic tile floors with cleaning agent and steel floors with glycerine SRC
Fuel resistance (oil and gasoline/petrol) FO
Cut resistance (not against chainsaw cuts) CR

There is also EN ISO 20346:2004[4] for protective footwear (must comply to basic safety requirements but toe cap impact resistance requirement is lower - 100 Joules) & EN ISO 20347:2004 for Occupational Footwear (must comply to basic safety requirements with antistatic or slip-resistant properties. This standard does not require a protective toe cap)

North America


(CSA) green triangle and orange electrical safety tags

In Canada, the most common standards used by employers are those of the CSA Group (formerly the Canadian Standards Association; CSA), published in CSA standard Z195. These standards are similar to the ASTM International standards commonly used in the United States but the testing methods do vary.

CSA standards on shoe labels feature distinct shapes and colors, represents specific safety criteria for all safety footwear and apparel:

The registered symbol in each of the CSA Z195 protective footwear markings is a registered identifying logo or mark of the certifying agency.[5] Examples of organizations that certify footwear to this standard include the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI), the CSA Group, and UL Solutions.

Generally, a safety shoe is a shoe that follows at least one of five criteria. The criteria that a safety shoe adheres to can be found by looking for the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) alphanumeric code found inside the shoe. This code is made up of a combination of 5 different symbols:

  1. The first code indicates whether the shoe has a steel-toe cap (a metal shell embedded on top of the toes part of the shoe). "0" means there is none. "1" means that there is, and it resists an impact of 125 joules (22.7 kg object falling from 56 cm above). "2" means that it resists an impact of 90 joules.
  2. The second code indicates whether the shoe has soles that protect the arches of the feet from punctures. "P" means it does. "O" means it doesn't.
  3. The third code indicates whether the shoe has a metatarsus protection against shocks and collisions. "M" means it does. "O" doesn't.
  4. The fourth code indicates the shoe's electrical properties. "E" means it resists electrical shocks. "S" means it disperses static electrical. "C" means it conducts electricity.
  5. This last code is found only on shoes that protect the foot from chainsaws, i.e. chainsaw boots. "X" it does, "O" does not.

United States

A pair of ASTM 2412-2413 compliant S3 safety shoes

In the United States, the most common standards used by employers for protective footwear are ASTM International standards F2412-18a (Standard Test Methods for Foot Protection) and ASTM F2413-18 (Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Foot Protection).

OSHA previously required compliance of ANSI Z41.1-1991, "American National Standard for Personal Protection-Protective Footwear," if purchased after July 5, 1994,[6] or ANSI standard "USA Standard for Men's Safety-Toe Footwear," Z41.1-1967,[7] if purchased before that date.

As of March 1, 2005, ANSI Z41 has been replaced by ASTM F2412 and ASTM F2413[8]

ASTM certified footwear must include a label that indicates which safety standards that particular footwear meets. The various safety standards include:


Use as a weapon

Steel-toe boots have been used in assaults, such as the attack on Josie Lou Ratley, a Florida teenager.[9] Nightclubs and other entertainment venues frequently include a "no steel toecaps" rule as part of their dress code to mitigate the possibility of serious injury to other patrons if the wearer becomes violent.[citation needed] Use of bovver boots in football hooliganism was countered by warnings to fans that they would have to remove such boots in order to attend football matches.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Masand, Dev (30 April 2024). "Steel Toe vs Composite Toe Boots | Which one is Better?". Safaripro.in. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  2. ^ "Work Boot Safety Toe Caps – Explained & Demystified". workwear.org. Luke Davis. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  3. ^ "Klompen zijn veilig en krijgen keurmerk" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-09-09.
  4. ^ "EN ISO 20346:2004". Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  5. ^ "CSA Z195:14 (R2023) Protective footwear". CSA Group. July 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2024.
  6. ^ Occupational foot protection. - 1910.136
  7. ^ OSHA Standard Interpretations
  8. ^ "New ASTM International Standards Supersede ANSI Z41 Protective Footwear Standards | www.astm.org". www.astm.org. Archived from the original on 2020-11-28. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  9. ^ "Josie Lou Ratley's Accused Assailant Denied Bail". CBS News. July 2, 2010.
  10. ^ "Great Games: Chesterfield 2 Aston Villa 3". Birmingham Mail. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2013.