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ESD shoes Steel Toe Shoes: Selecting safety work boots

Updated on January 19, 2013

Steel or Composite: Different Types of Safety Footwear

Unfortunately for me I spent close to two years working for one of the premiere Safety Shoe distributors in the USA.

My title was "Warehouse Manager", but I certainly fitted many steel toe and safety boots on dirty straight from work laborers too. As a side effect of purchasing and accepting and processing returns on safety footwear I have inside knowledge on what brands and models hold up to their pricetags and what Brands live up to their Guarantees.

In Jest, I said sweaty laborers, but in fact safety shoes are worn by laboratory technicians, nuclear scientists, restaurant staff and steel workers alike.

I have a couple of pairs of Hush Puppies steel toe dress shoes that I still wear regularly. These models were traditionally worn by Plant managers and executives who worked in facilities that required all staff including office workers to wear safety shoes.

ansi,steel toe, safety toe, stealth, steel toe boots

Steel or Composite Safety Shoes

Regardless of whether your shoe or boot is Steel or Composite they will have the same crush and impact rating.

Steel is not stronger, but composite is slightly lighter.

ANSI Z41 = ASTM F2413

American National Standards Institute = American Society for Testing and Materials

The base standard is:

I/75 = Impact rating of 75 (foot pounds)
C/75 = Compression rating of 75 (2500 lbs. of pressure)

Composite is slightly lighter and does not set off metal detectors, although having a composite safety toe cap alone is not enough to ensure metal detector freedom. Look for a marking that indicates "Stealth" , which means no metal in eyelets, shanks or zippers.

Many nuclear facilities and labs require metal detectors at all entrances and owning a pair of stealth boots or shoes can make your day much easier. Many Airport employees are required to wear safety shoes also. Particularly security guards.

Both Converse and Skechers make safety shoes and boots that were very popular, our best sellers are visible to the right.

Best brand choices in this shoe are Converse, Bates, Nautilus and Skechers.

Many Stealth shoes are made in a tactical style used in military footwear, they are usually waterproof, light and have sneaker like cushioning.

ESD shoes, Steel Toe Work boots what shoe is best for you

A common requirement in laboratories, assembly lines (electronics) and clean rooms is ESD or SD rated footwear.

Rating Specs:

(ANSI ESD 2020, IEC 61340-5-1 etc).

ESD safety shoe (toe and foot protection) are addressed in Standard EN 345-347.

An ESD (Electro-Static Dissipating) or SD (Static Dissipating) shoe has two purposes.

  1. Those who work with sensitive components, electronics, hard drives etc. the ESD footwear keeps the built up static electricity in our bodies from destroying sensitive components.
  2. The shoe also acts as a ground which protects the wearer from electrocution when working around high voltage equipment. The rating will clearly show voltage protection on the packaging of the shoe model (this is required) Electricians and Utility workers are candidates for these models.

Ideally, One who gets exposed to high voltages should look for EH rated shoes, Electrical Hazard

What is a MetGuard and other Safety shoe ratings

What is a 'Met Guard" ie Metatarsal guard:

Sure if you drop something on your toes, you are protected, but what if it lands farther up on your foot in the unprotected area?

This part is the Metatarsal of your foot and boots are made with this protection also.

You will find both internal (in the tongue) and external Metatarsal Guards, the external guards usually double as lace protection which helps those workers in Steel Plants and other high heat situations where "hots" tend to melt their laces, or Quarries where the laces can be quickly abraided.

At our local Steel Plant the Timberland 40000 and similar models were by far the most popular metguard boots, they boast high heat soles and abrasion/heat resistant uppers.

Without sacrificing the comfort and style one expects from Timberland

Converse Boots, Rocky Boots, Dunham Boots: Comparing Steel Toe Brands

Although this is a rather subjective list I will give you my informed brand suggestions.

All round best workmanship and guarantee is

Hytest - these boots are usually rather expensive and are only supposed to be soldby licensed distributors, BUT you can get great deals on 150.00+ boots on eBay for 30-50 dollars!

Best Stealth Boot

Converse - hands down ! This boot is seen on the feet of Army Reserves, Police Cadet Instructors, Security guards and nuclear facility workers. It looks great and is incredibly light.

Best Stealth Shoe

Skechers wins this option, by having lightweight, stylish and long lasting models with fully stealth construction.

Best Safety Dress Shoe

Hush Puppies which are carried under Hytest or RockPorts, Rockports gets a small lead in style, but Hush Puppies crushes all competition in comfort

Best Metatarsal

Timberland wins this one by a long shot

Best Womens Steel Toe options

This award also goes to Skechers, stylish, trendy yet safe and comfortable, these were always an easy sale.

Restaurant Shoes

Although a Safety shoe usually suggests a steel toe, or more appropriately a safety toe, some workplaces require no more than a rated non slip tread.

For restaurant use line cooks, servers, chefs or nurses and hospital workers try



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    • sunforged profile image

      sunforged 7 years ago from


      That issue wouldn't be that specific to the shoe, but there are some models that do offer more room in the toe box, unfortunately, those models often have a look that isn't always accepted by the more rugged types as it will tend to look more like a dress shoe.

      The Hytest brand had some popular recurring buys for workers who had issues do to diabetes or bunions.

      I did some quick searching and the style is called a Opanka - and Wolverine does offer it in a boot model - i know from personal experience that the slip on variety feels just like a slipper!

      Thats where i would start if I was speaking to a customer in person

    • profile image

      Tina 7 years ago

      do you have a recommendation for a man who must wear safety shoes at work all day and have chronic ingrown toenails on his big toe?

    • profile image

      Wayne 7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom! It has made my job of selecting work shoes much easier.


    • safety profile image

      safety 8 years ago from Austin, TX

      Nice hub! I like your recommended list - safety first, but fashion does come into play. Thanks for providing.

    • Greg Palmer profile image

      Greg Palmer 8 years ago

      Thank you for you sharing your personal experience as a warehouse manager as well as your research and suggestions for folks in different occupations that need steel toe shoes. I’m sure you’ve enlightened many readers about how to be informed shoppers when buying safe footwear. Thanks for your contribution.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      nice boot. Now we have another option for boot which suitable for us.

    • sunforged profile image

      sunforged 8 years ago from

      well your in luck - cowboy or western styles are made in steel toe!

    • P Morgan profile image

      P Morgan 8 years ago

      Good Hub. Need steel toed cowboy boots :)