There are a number of different professions which require that safety shoes and personal protection equipment are worn, in order to avoid the risk of incidents and work hazards while at the job. The hazards vary, as well as the levels of risk. They include the danger of slipping, suffering electric shock, chemical burns, breaking a toe or foot from a falling or rolling object and others.
This is why there is a large number of companies which focus on the production of safety shoes and equipment for different work environments and for sufficient protection from a wide variety of safety hazards.
In the US, safety shoes carry different symbols which show the level of protection and the type of protection they offer. They are all symbols of the results from various tests for protection and resistance which these shoes have passed in accordance to a number of different national or international safety standards.
LEGEND: the R symbol represents the place where the mark or label of an accredited testing organization that evaluated and approved the footwear should appear.

Color Symbols

For easier decoding by buyers, most safety shoes in the US and in Canada have special color symbols to show the type and level of protection they offer:

green-triangle   A green triangle, indicating that it is a class 1 toe cap shoe with a puncture resistant grade 1 sole, which is suitable for jobs in the heavy industries, construction and others with a protection of 125 joules of impact for the toes.

yellow-triangleA yellow triangle indicates that it is a class 2 toe cap shoe with a grade 2 puncture resistant sole, suitable for the light industries and up to 90 joules of impact protection for the toes.

ohm-sign• A white square with an orange omega symbol in it, which indicates that the soles offer electrical protection, so the shoes are suitable for environments where there is a danger of live electrical conductivity.

yellow-SD-rectangle• A yellow square with green “SD” letters in it indicates that the shoes have been tested and approved for anti-static protection and that their soles dissipate electrostatic charge in a controlled manner, so the shoes are suitable for environments where there is a risk of static discharge.

red-rectangle• A red square with a black letter “C” and a grounding symbol indicates that the soles of the shoes are electrically conductive and thus can be used in environments where there is a hazard of low electrical charges.

fig-tree• A green fir tree on a white background indicates the shoe offers protection against chain-saws, thus are suitable for forestry workers and loggers who use hand chainsaws and other cutting equipment.
blue-rectangle• A white “R” with a blue background means that the shoe offers Grade 1 toe protection but no sole puncture protection.
grey-rectangle• A black “R” in a circle and a grey background is a symbol which means that the shoe has Grade 2 toe protection (90 joules) and no sole puncture protection.


ASTM standards simplified

The safety standards for shoes are for resistance and protection from a wide variety of hazards.
In the US, the safety shoes are tested by an accredited laboratory for compliance to the new F 2412-05 Standard Test Methods for Foot Protection and F 2413-05 Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Foot Protection standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) which replaced the pre-existing ANSI Z41 Standard for Personal Protection Protective Footwear, which is now invalid. Both new standards from the ASTM are under the jurisdiction of the ASTM Committee F13 on Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear.

The tests are done for impact resistance for the toe area against falling objects, for compression resistance of the shoe from heavy rolling objects, for metatarsal protection provided to the upper foot and toes, for puncture resistance against sharp objects injuring the foot through the outsole, for electric-shock resistance against accidental stepping on electric circuits, for static dissipation test for protection against contact with electrical circuits and for conductivity or the shoe’s ability to discharge static electricity through it to a grounded floor.

Now, when you know all this, you only need to choose the best pair of work boots. If you don’t know where to start, head over to and drill down to the most appropriate safety boots for your job.

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