What are the differences between steel toe and composite toe safety shoes? Which one should I choose?

Safety is the most important consideration for any industry and also for our life, especially for those who need to work in harsh conditions and environments. If you buy safety shoes, it is important not only to know the safety shoe codes, but also to understand the materials they are made of. Understanding the differences between steel toe caps and composite toe caps means you can make sure the footwear you buy is right for your environment. When looking for new protective work shoes and choosing fit-for-purpose safety boots, you will see steel toe caps in some specifications and composite toe caps in others. Both of these materials are used to protect feet from a number of different hazards while at work, but what is the difference between them and what is the best protection for you?

In this article, we will share some information to help you decide which one is right for you.

Steel Toe Safety Shoes

Steel toe cap safety shoes, also known as safety boots, contain a piece of steel in the toe area to protect the toes from a number of different hazards in the workplace. Steel toe caps meet the standard European safety specifications of a 200 joule protective toe cap. Steel toe caps offer more flat protection than composite toe caps and can handle heavier weights above the basic safety requirement compared to composite toe caps.

There is a common understanding that steel toe caps make your safety footwear heavier and therefore uncomfortable. However, recently steel toe cap safety work shoes have been specially manufactured to be lightweight and comfortable.

Steel toe work shoes are not suitable for work environments where there is a requirement to pass through a metal detector. Examples are airports, courthouses, and nuclear power plants. In addition, the steel material maintains a cooler temperature for longer than composite in terms of type and content.

Composite Toe Safety Shoes

Composite toe cap safety shoes are generally slightly lighter than steel toe cap work boots. This lightness can also vary depending on the other materials used in the safety footwear. Composite toe caps are usually made from strong non-metallic materials such as Kevlar, carbon fibre, plastic or fibreglass. As they are non-metallic materials, they are suitable for the working environment where metal detectors are deployed. The composite toe is completely metal-free and therefore does not conduct electricity. Composite toe caps withstand less impact force than steel toe protection. Composite toe caps provide less protection than steel toe caps because it is lighter. It may not withstand high-weight impacts.

If you have to pass through metal detectors, such as those working in nuclear power plants, in the security field, in courthouses or at airports, composite work shoes are extremely suitable. The work shoes do not interfere with metal detectors such as steel-toed work shoes because they are non-metallic. 

Should I choose steel toe or composite toe safety shoes?

 When it comes to choosing between steel toe or composite toe safety shoes, one of the most important determining factors will be the job and environment in which they are used. Both of these materials are great at protecting your feet. Incredible protective materials have unique properties. It is important to assess your environment and the needs of your employees before purchasing and sourcing safety footwear. There are several questions you should ask when choosing safety footwear to make sure it is suitable for your environment. 

For example; 

  • Do you have safety measures in place that involve going through metal detectors multiple times throughout the workday? 
  • Will you be working with heavy machinery? 
  • Will you face the danger of objects falling on your feet? What is the level of protection you want? 
  • What other features should your safety shoes have? 

Answering these questions will help you make the right decision.

In summary, the steel toe cap can handle a higher impact mass.  It is a good choice if you work around heavy equipment or in a warehouse environment.

On the other hand, composite toe caps have the advantages of being metal-free, lightweight and less conductive of heat and cold, making them a popular choice for electricians and engineers. Also, although Ronashoes shoes are steel toe safety shoes, they are not heavy compared to composite toe shoes as they are made up of other top quality lightweight materials used.

Whatever you decide, make sure that the safety shoes you choose have been tested and comply with international safety standards such as EN 20345:2011.

Check out Rona Shoes collection of EN ISO 20345:2011 approved safety shoes with steel toe caps.  

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