Choosing a safety boot: 4 elements to consider

Choosing a safety boot: 4 elements to consider

11/1/2018 - SPI


The protection components, such as the steel toe or the metatarsal protection, are what differentiate a safety boot from a standard work boot. The choice of the protection components must be done according to the risks from which the worker must be protected.


There are two types of protective toes: steel or composite. Composite has the advantage of being lighter, offering higher thermal insulation and being electrically non-conductive. However, steel provides a better protection on a flat surface against falling objects and crushing.


While the protective toe is self-explanatory, metatarsal protection protects the top of the foot. There are two main types of metatarsal protection: internal or external. Internal metatarsal protection is usually lighter and does not affect the style of the boot. On the other hand, external metatarsal protection provides additional protection, but should not impede mobility.


Puncture-resistant protection is integrated into the manufacturing process, between the insole and outsole of the footwear. There are two types of puncture-resistant protection: steel and woven materials. The steel protection is the cost-effective choice for a thin protection with an excellent protection factor. The protection made of woven materials is more flexible and offers the advantage of being electrically non-conductive for situations where metal-free boots are required.


Electrical protection is essential in all industrial work environments where workers can accidentally come into contact with a live electrical current conductor.

There are three main classes of electrical protection according to the CSA:

  • Class E: Omega symbol – Resistance to electric shocks
  • Class S: Dissipates static electricity
  • Class C: Electrically conductive sole



If your work environment does not pose a risk of contact with hazardous substances, full-grain leather and nubuck are excellent choices. With dense fibers, full-grain leather is strong, durable and naturally waterproof. Also, the leather pores make it a breathable material, an important characteristic for the comfort of the feet.


The presence of chemical products in the work environment requires additional protection. Specialized materials, such as Tufftech, a leather covered with PU applied at high temperature and pressure, resist to abrasion and liquids in environments where regular leather deteriorates. Chemtech is another example of specialized material. Fully synthetic with a leather feel, it resists to chemical products, dairy products, animal fats and blood.



Materials used for outsoles influence factors such as comfort, flexibility, lightness and resistance to wear, chemical products and heat. The choice of the material used for the outsole depends on your needs and preferences. For example, rubber and a mix of rubber and nitrile offer excellent resistance to wear, heat and oils, but will be heavier than polyurethane (PU). PU outsoles are less resistant to heat. Vibram rubber provides wear resistance and increased adherence factor.



We often consider the insulating lining, for example, 3M Thinsulate, as a characteristic allowing the feet to be kept warm in winter. However, depending on the thickness, this lining also protects from summer heat and wet conditions.


Many materials are water-repellent. The imperviousness level must be chosen according to the tasks to complete and the work environment. In addition to the material used on the outside of the boot, seam waterproofing and the addition of waterproof membranes can be used for increased impermeability. For example, Sympatex is a breathable and waterproof membrane forming a watertight inner boot to prevent water to get in while wicking transpiration outwards.


When working all day long with safety boots, repeated contact can generate odors. To address this problem, consider a boot with an antibacterial or anti-odor treatment such as the Agion treatment. For advice and to guide you in the selection of the best-suited safety boots for your teams do not hesitate to contact our experts.