If you’re involved in the purchasing of safety footwear, it is important not just to know about safety footwear codes, but also to have an understanding of the materials they are made from. An understanding of the differences between steel toe caps and composite toe caps means that you can be confident the footwear you are purchasing is right for your environment.
When looking for new safety footwear and choosing fit for purpose safety boots, you will see footwear that has steel toe caps in their specifications while others have composite toe caps. Both these materials are used to protect the feet while at work from a number of different hazards but what is the difference between them and what is the best protection for you?
Steel Toe Caps
Safety boots and wellingtons with steel toe caps 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 essentially handle heavier weights above the basic safety requirement compared to composite toe caps. It is important to note however that unless you are in an exceptionally hazardous environment with the possibility of items with enormous weight falling on or piercing your toes, you’re unlikely to be in a situation where your composite toe cap is at a risk of shattering.
There is this common conception that steel toe caps make your safety footwear heavier and therefore uncomfortable. However, in recent times, safety footwear with steel toe caps has been created to be lightweight….well at least the our safety footwear and wellingtons have been!
Composite Toe Caps
Composite toe caps are usually lighter than steel boots and are completely metal free and therefore do not conduct electricity. Instead, they contain a composite material in the toe portion of the boots and the midsole. Composite materials are materials such as fibreglass, kevlar or carbon fibre. Boots with a composite toe cap also meet the EN safety regulation basic requirements of a 200 joule protective toe cap.
Composite boots are highly suitable if you have to pass through metal detectors such as those who work in nuclear plants, security, the courts or airports. The boots do not set off metal detectors like steel toe boots as they are non-metallic. That means time is not wasted by individuals being checked numerous times while working.
The integra.boot Fusion boots with fibreglass toe cap
When it comes to choosing between safety footwear that has a steel toe cap or composite toe cap, one of the major deciding factors will be the job and environment they are being used in. Both of these materials are great at protecting your feet and have their own unique properties which make them incredible protective materials.
It is important to assess your environment and employee needs before purchasing and supplying safety footwear. There are a number of questions you should ask when choosing safety footwear to make sure that it is suitable for your environment, such as: Do you have security measures that involve you passing through metal detectors numerous times throughout the working day? Will you be working with heavy machinery? Will you be in danger of items falling on your feet? What is the level of protection you desire? What are the other properties your safety footwear must have? Answering these questions will help in making the right decision.
Always remember that there are standards safety footwear and wellingtons must meet to be determined as safety. You can read about safety footwear codes and their meanings here.
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