We use the term ‘safety toe’ nowadays because of the variety of materials used to make safety toe caps. Before the invention of the steel toe cap, an additional layer of leather was added to the toe to help reinforce the boot. This was especially common on boots worn by iron workers who needed the extra reinforcement in the iron mines. Today, safety toe caps are made using a variety of lightweight and durable materials, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.
STEEL SAFETY CAPS
Steel is and continues to be the standard for protection in especially hazardous work conditions.
- Superior resistance to drop hazards and compression
- Ideal choice for most hazardous work environments
- In the event that you sustain a serious drop or compression, the durability of steel is minimally compromised. If an event like this occurs, steel will maintain its integrity by bending or dimpling.
- Steel is easily affected by cold conditions. Individuals with poor circulation are more sensitive to these changes in temperature so we recommend appropriate socks for cold conditions.
- For those who must pass through metal detectors on a regular basis, steel will trip metal detectors.
COMPOSITE (aka NON-METALLIC) SAFETY CAPS
Composite materials are being utilized more and more thanks to its lightweight durability. Though lighter, composite materials meet or exceed the same standards as steel. Only a handful of industries prohibit the use of composite safety toes. Check with your employer if composite safety toes are permitted in your workplace.
- Up to 30% lighter than steel
- Resistant to temperature change
- Composite materials will not trip metal detectors
- In the event that you sustain a serious drop or compression, the durability of composite materials can be compromised. If an event like this occurs, composite materials can crack. As a result, the integrity of the boot as a whole has been compromised and it is recommended that the boot be replaced.
ALUMINUM & ALLOY SAFETY CAPS
Other materials, besides steel and composite materials, are utilized for safety toe caps. These materials, such as aluminum and certain alloys, have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Generally, these materials are lighter weight while meeting the same safety standards as steel and composite materials. Aluminum and alloy safety toe caps are typically featured on hybrid work boots (i.e. hiker styles) and light industrial indoor work shoes (i.e. safety toe oxfords and slip-ons).