Work Boot Safety Ratings and Symbols

Work Boot Safety Ratings And Symbols - A Detailed Guide

Work Boot Safety Ratings And Symbols - A Detailed Guide

You may have noticed these labels on the safety boots and wondered what they meant. Safety standards protect employees from hazardous conditions at work. These workplace hazards are not eliminated but reduced. These precautions help diminish the company’s liabilities and risks. The gold standard for Safety Footwear is ASTM F2413. They were updated in the year 2018 as ASTM F2413-18. Below, I summarize the safety ratings and meanings of these symbols.

The Safety Ratings By ASTM Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the US Department of Labor mandates the federal safety regulations. Every workplace has to ensure that safety regulations are met. And employees are provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that covers workplace hazards. These safety regulations and the quality of PPE have to be regulated.

These standards are set up by an independent body – a non-profit organization, ASTM International. The body develops and publishes standards for the performance of these safety devices. These PPE or safety devices are checked by Standardized tests. Before the ASTM, ANSI Standards were in place. They were replaced in 2005. The F13 Committee meets every 5 years to update these standards. They were updated in 2011 and then in 2013. The latest update was in 2018.

The Safety Ratings are required to cover three aspects;

Performance Requirements – The PPE is required to perform. The performance is the protection offered. Personal Safety wear saves from hazards of compression, impact, and puncture. Other performance specifications need to be met, too. Such as Electrical Hazard, Puncture Resistance, Static Dissipative, Conductive properties.

Testing Standards – These protective boots are subjected to standardized tests developed by the ASTM. They are tested by independent laboratories to check if they meet these physical performance requirements. These labs then attest to the performance on a Certificate of Conformance.

Standard labeling – The safety gear is required to be labeled in a standard format.

Protection Offered By Safety Footwear

The OSHA Work Boot Requirements offer the following protection;

  • Electrical hazards such as electric poles, high tension wires, live wires, conductors, etc.
  • Poisonous or corrosive materials such as caustic chemicals such as potash, various acids, etc. They offer protection while working with insecticides, pesticides, salts, ores, etc.
  • Static electricity could lead to explosions and fire. This is because static charge develops on materials such as silk, nylon, plastic, polyester, etc., which can ignite volatile and flammable substances like kerosene, nylon, naphthalene, etc.
  • Sharp objects that could puncture the foot on the work floor of a recycling plant, glass industry, or metalworks and welding plant.
  • Heavy objects that may roll onto the foot on a freight and packaging facility, or while handling large drums full of chemicals or oil.
  • Molten metals in refineries and foundries. The splashes of molten metals can fall anywhere which could be your foot, toe, ankle, etc. The burns can put the worker out of commission for a long time.
  • Hot or slippery surfaces like in the refineries, boiler rooms, oil rigs, canning and bottling plants, etc.

OSHA requirements suggest conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace. This assessment would determine the type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) i.e., work boots; required for the working conditions prevailing in that workplace. A consultant or in-house safety personnel can conduct the assessment.

Safety Ratings & Performance By ASTM F2413

Work Boot Safety Ratings And Symbols - A Detailed Guide

The work footwear in the United States of America is fitted with safety toes. These Safety toes are of three types: – Steel, Composite, and Alloy toes. The alloy toe is made of aluminum or titanium. All these toes are expected to conform to ASTM F2413 Standards.

This standard specifies the performance requirements for all footwear with a safety toe cap. The ASTM F2413-certified safety toe cap is built into the boot. It cannot be removed and offers adequate protection and resistance to impact and compression.

The ASTM F2412-18a recommends the Standard Test Methods and ASTM F 2413-18 recommends the Standard Specification for the Performance Requirements. Standardized Tests have been recommended to test each of these parameters.

For Example – The boots are tested for three levels of protection are I/30, I/50, and I/75. Class 75 offers maximum protection against impact. The 75 rating means that the footwear protects against an impact of 75 pounds or 2500 pounds of compressive load.

The levels of protections encoded  by ASTM F2413 Standards as follows:

Impact Protection against dropping or falling objects. To test the efficacy of the toe cap against impact, a weight of 50 pounds id dropped from the height of 18 inches. The weight of the object dropped from this height combined with the gravitational force of the earth deliver an impact of 75 foot-pounds on the protective toe cap. The boots that withstand this impact are marked I/75.

Compression Protection from rolling objects. To test the efficacy of the toe cap against compression, a load of 2500 pounds is dropped on it. The boots that withstand this compression are marked C/75.

Puncture Resistant (PR) – soles protect the worker’s feet from sharp objects such as shattered glass, a sharp metal that may puncture or cut the sole. Protective plates of steel or composite are embedded in the footwear’s sole to protect against nails, broken glass, etc. These boots are tested to withstand a force of 270 pounds on the underside. The protective metal device is subjected to a corrosion test where the boot stands in a 5% salt solution for 24 hours. It should not develop cracks or leaks. These boots are also subjected to 1.5 million flexes. It should not wear or crack at the end of these tests.

Metatarsal (Mt) protection covers the upper region of the foot. The boot should withstand a force of 75 foot-pounds and is marked Mt/75.

Electrical Hazard (EH) – protection shields from electric shocks. Personnel working with electrical systems and live wires should wear these boots. The boots withstand 18000V at 60Hz for a minute without a flow or leakage of more than 1mA for 1 minute in dry conditions.

Static Dissipative – These safety standards were revised in 2018, and the deadline to implement them was October 2019. The modifications in 2018 for protective toe caps remained the same as the 2011 version. But there were three noteworthy changes in the 2018 version. They covered testing methods and specific standards for performance requirements.

There are three levels of Static Dissipative (SD) or Dielectric (DI) protection.

  • SD 100 is code for Static dissipative (1-100 megohms)
  • SD 35 is code for Static dissipative (1-35 megohms)
  • SD 10 is code for Static dissipative (1-10 megohms)

Conduction (Cd) Rating – means that the boot resists the build-up static charge and dissipates it in a controlled manner. The build-up of charge may cause sparks and ignite flammable chemicals. The boot has an electrical resistance of up to 500000 ohms.

Safety Ratings And Code

The gold standard for Safety Footwear is ASTM F2413. They were updated in the year 2018 as ASTM F2413-18. Below, I summarize the safety ratings and meanings of these symbols.

Here is a list of rating abbreviations;

  • I/75 is Impact rating
  • C/75 is the Compression rating
  • Mt/75 is Metatarsal rating
  • CD stands for Conductive properties
  • EH indicates Electrical hazard properties
  • SD 100 is code for Static dissipative (1-100 megohms)
  • SD 35 code for Static dissipative (1-35 megohms)
  • SD 10 is code for Static dissipative (1-10 megohms)
  • PR denotes Puncture resistant
  • M denotes the footwear is for a male
  • F denotes the footwear is for a female
  • SR means Slip Resistant

Reading The Safety Ratings & Symbols

Work Boot Safety Ratings And Symbols - A Detailed Guide

Now let us read the symbols and safety ratings to understand what kind of protection is offered by the safety boot.

As seen in the diagram above, the ASTM Standard requires the specific portion of the boot marked. These marks and labels should be legible. The information can be embroidered, printed, or impressed upon pressure sensitive labels. The label can be placed on the gusset, tongue, shaft, or quarter lining.

Now let us understand what specific protection is offered by this boot. The rectangular label has this information on the label  –

ASTM F2413-18



Line 1 – ASTM F2413-18

This code indicates the ASTM Standard Number and the Year of issuance. The standard number is ASTM F2413, which was issued in 2018.

Line 2 – M/I/C

This code indicates the gender this safety boot is appropriate for  – in this case, a male (M). The letter M will be replaced by F if the boot is for a female. The letter “I” stands for Impact resistance and “C” stands for Compression resistance.

Line 3 – Mt/EH/PR

This code indicates additional protection such as Metatarsal guard (Mt), Electrical Hazard (EH), and Puncture Resistance (PR).

There are two more sample labels in this article you can practice reading the code embedded in them.

Three Changes In ASTM F2413-18 And Their Impact

Work Boot Safety Ratings And Symbols - A Detailed Guide

Three changes were made in the ASTM F2413. These changes heralded an improvement in manufacturing processes and quality assurance.

Change 1Test Methods for Foot Protection under F2412-18a Standard include detailed diagrams and better-defined test procedures.

Change 2 – The Standard Specifications for the Performance Requirements of Soft Toe Protective Footwear under the Non-Safety/Non-Protective Toe category has been updated to include three levels of Static Dissipation (SD). The labeling will reflect these codes.

Change 3 – A Certificate of Conformance accompanied by a test report from a third party laboratory is mandatory.

Regardless of the year of issuance of the F2413, a test report by the third-party laboratory has to be issued. This report has to include performance requirements. It is also required to mention the safety hazards the footwear has been tested for. The report is required to carry a pass-fail statement in the results.

Certificate Of Conformance

Work Boot Safety Ratings And Symbols - A Detailed Guide

By ASTM F2413-18, the third party laboratory has to issue a Certificate of Conformance (COC). This certificate has to include:

  • Name of the third party laboratory
  • Name of the company the COC has been issued to
  • A reference of the manufacturer such as SKU, model, product category, style, etc.
  • Certificate issuance date
  • Issue date and report number on the Certificate of Compliance (COC)
  • Statement – The manufacturer’s reference (SKU, model, product category, style, etc) meets the performance requirements specified by ASTM F2413-18. The product should have been tested according to the methods mentioned in ASTM F2412-18a besides the list of hazards tested.

These changes resulted in updated manufacturing processes and their testing methods. It became essential for the manufacturers to establish a testing process that ascertained that the products meet the current standards. This means that the trusted brands had to remain updated and have testing facilities to ensure the product met the requisite standards. These developments improved occupational safety and health in the workplace.


What is the relationship between Conduction Rating (Cr) and Static Dissipative (SD) rating?

Conduction Rating (Cr) denotes the boots’ ability to resist the build-up of static charge. Static Dissipative (SD) stands for the boot’s ability to ground or conduct the build-up into the floor in a controlled manner. Cr boots are ideal to be worn around inflammable and explosive chemicals. The SD boots are worn in warehouses and electrical installations where the chances of static build-up are high and constant. These boots regularly ground this charge slowly to the floor.

Are Conduction Rating (Cr) boots the same as Electrical Hazard (EH) boots?

Electrical Hazard (EH) boots prevent the person from serving as a conductor of electricity. Over 70% of the human body is water, and it has salt dissolved in it. Sweat on the skin too behaves like an excellent conductor. Electrical Hazard (EH) boots isolate the worker from the electrical surface and a conducting surface like the floor. This protects them from electric shocks. These may be made of rubber, PU, or a similar non-conductive and insulating material. Conduction Rating (Cr) boots resist the buildup of a static charge. They may be made of microfiber, leather, suede, etc. with a PU sole.

What is the meaning of the codes – Energy Absorption (E) and Ankle Protection (AN)?

When you walk, leap, jump, climb and do other actions using the foot and ankle. The entire body’s weight falls on the soles and ankles. If you walk on a hard concrete floor, there is one kind of impact. While you walk on uneven terrain, there is another kind of discomfort. This impact is absorbed by the sole of the Energy Absorption (E) boots. These soles are made of springy materials such as polyurethane (PU) layered with foam. This combination of materials behaves like a spring compressing and decompressing to return energy to the foot. This prevents fatigue.

Ankle Protection (AN) is found in safety footwear worn around jobs with a chance of ankle and foot injury. The entire foot is protected and there is padded support around the ankle. This is because it is the primary joint that is engaged each time you leap, climb stairs or ladders, or board vehicles.

What does HRO stand for?

Heat Resistant Outsole (HRO) is useful in industries with furnaces, smelters, etc. The extreme temperature seeps into the ground, making it uncomfortable to walk on. Boots with a Heat Resistant Outsole (HRO) resists up to 300 degrees for up to a minute.

What does SRA stand for?

These are slip-resistant soles that maintain a firm grip on the floor. The codes and their safety ratings are as follows;

  • SRA outsoles are tested on wet and slippery ceramic tiles. Dilute soapy solution of sodium lauryl sulfate is spilled on these tiles to make them slippery.
  • SRB outsoles are tested on glycerol covered tiles
  • SRC outsoles are tested on type A and B conditions.

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