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Safety Shoes & Safety Boots Compare

August 9th, 2023

Safety shoes and boots are designed specifically to protect the feet from common workplace hazards. Understanding the key differences between safety shoes and boots will help you make an informed decision when choosing safety footwear for your specific job.

Safety shoes are protective footwear designed to safeguard the feet against compression, puncture injuries, and impact. According to the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), safety shoes must adhere to ASTM International standards for protective footwear, which include an impact test of the toe area and a compression test of the sole.

Safety shoes cover and protect the entire foot. The soles of safety shoes have deeply lugged treads for traction and stability. Some designs also feature metatarsal guards over the instep for extra protection from crushing hazards.

Safety boots provide protection for the feet and lower legs from workplace hazards. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), safety boots must adhere to CSA standards for Grade 1 protective footwear, which dictate construction requirements, sole penetration resistance, electric shock protection, and more.

Safety boots extend above the ankles to shield the ankles and lower legs. They are typically 8-10 inches in total height. Like safety shoes, they have thick, padded collars and oil-resistant, non-skid outsoles.

Comparison of Safety Shoes vs. Safety Boots

Design and Construction

– Safety shoes cover the foot only while safety boots extend above the ankle. Boots provide more coverage and support.

– Boots are available in more specialized designs like electrical hazard, waterproof, and insulated. Shoes come in basic impact/compression-resistant styles.

– Boots are more rigid through the heel/ankle due to their height. Shoes offer more natural movement at the ankle.


– Boots provide protection from cuts and abrasions to the ankle/lower leg. Shoes do not cover above the foot.

– Boots offer more ankle stability and support on uneven terrain. Shoes permit more natural ankle flexion.

– Select safety boots that offer chemical, electrical, or water protection. Safety shoes lack coverage for comprehensive protection.

Comfort and Wearability

– Shoes are more lightweight and flexible, allowing for increased mobility. Boots are heavier and stiffer.

– The low profile of shoes feels less bulky. Boots take more time to break in fully.

– Shoes allow for greater heat dissipation. Boots retain more heat around the foot and ankle.

– Boots offer more cushioning and shock absorption due to their platform soles.

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