10 Best Safety Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance

Whether you’re at work in a physically demanding job or engaging in a potentially dangerous hobby, you shouldn’t have to be worried about your safety. You have to do something to earn a living, and you’re allowed to have a good time in your own way; there’s no reason why you should have to get hurt for it. However, that means that you sometimes have to take certain precautions, including wearing safety or steel-toed shoes or boots.

Best Safety Shoes - brown boots

The purpose of such shoes is to guard your toes–arguably the most vulnerable part of your foot–against heavy falling objects, compression, or anything on the ground that might otherwise cut through the shoe. How do they accomplish such feats of protection, you ask? By using steel reinforcement in the toe area of the boot, in addition to a midsole plate.

Last Updated: October 30, 2017
By Ashley Morales:

This post has been udpated to describe the criteria used to evaluate the shoes that made it into the top ten list (focusing on the shoes’ practical features and manner of construction), as well as frequently asked questions about the purpose and care of safety shoes.

Featured Recommendations

Timberland Pro Pitboss
  • Timberland Pro Pitboss
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Slip-abrasion outsole
  • Price: See Here
Keen Utility Atlanta
  • Keen Utility Atlanta
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • asymmetrical steel toes
  • Price: See Here
Stanley Dredge
  • Stanley Dredge
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 100% Full Grain Leather
  • Price: See Here

Safety shoes seem to have a great track record for fulfilling their objective. Only one in four work-related injuries involve someone who was wearing safety shoes or boots. That’s why OSHA recommends and requires safety shoes or any other kind of shoe that can provide the same degree of protection.

 

10 Best Safety Shoes

 

1. Timberland Pro Pitboss

Ready to work? So is this shoe. It's every bit as sturdy and no-nonsense as it looks. In addition to the expected steel toe box and midsole plate, the shoe is made out of leather, known for its durability and resistance to damage. The padded collar not only provides even more protection, but it promises that you'll be comfortable as well. This shoe gets down to business.
Expand to see more
Firm Yet Comfy
The steel toe box is not only present, as expected, but it leaves a bit of extra wiggle room for your toes. Combine that with the padded collar and the option to lace up the boot as tightly or as loosely as you wish, and this shoe strikes the perfect balance between hardy and snug.

Shock Value
On top of fending off any possible injury from outside forces, this boot is wonderfully shock-absorbent. Your foot will be nothing other than safe and healthy while inside it.

Cost and Value
As far as a boot like this goes, the price is rather average and fairly reasonable, especially since a single pair should last you a long time.
Pros
  • Shock-absorbent
  • Roomy steel toe box
  • Padded collar
  • Sturdy leather exterior
  • Shoelaces let you control the fit
Cons
  • Not good for everyday use

2. Keen Utility Atlanta

Made of leather for hardiness, mesh for keeping out debris and facilitating coolness, and a rubber sole for helping you stay upright even on slippery ground, this shoe can be your best friend in diverse environments, especially warm ones. They're every bit as sensible as they look. Together with the standard steel toe and midsole plate, they're highly reliable in any work situation.
Expand to see more
Comfortably Cool
This shoe thinks of more than just protecting your foot from getting crushed--it also knows that you work best when you're distracted by a warm and moist foot. That's why it has mesh. You're welcome.

Protects in Multiple Ways
It's not just the steel toe box that comes in handy. Thanks to the rubber sole, it's less likely that you will slip and hurt yourself. You can also remove the footbed to glue your own insert in its place, which is great if you have orthopedic needs or concerns, so clearly, the shoe protects your foot's health as well.

Cost and Value
Though it can still certainly make a dent in your wallet, the price isn't bad for such a great shoe--perhaps even slightly on the low end.
Pros
  • Mesh helps keep your foot clean and dry
  • It's customizable because the footbed is removable for your convenience
  • Leather exterior ensures sturdiness and longevity
  • Rubber sole protects you against slipping and falling
Cons
  • May make squeaking sound when you walk
  • May be difficult to lace up

3. Caterpillar Second Shift

Heavy duty and practically oozing seriousness, this safety boot could follow you into the depths of the earth and return unscathed. On the outside, it's all leathery toughness, but on the inside, it's just generous plush and a fancy lining specially designed to cool off your feet in warm areas. You don't get much hardier than this, that's for sure.
Expand to see more
Balance of Strong and Soft
The leather guarantees that the boot will not easily fall apart, but the plush around the collar and lining on the insole assure you that designers were thinking of your comfort as well.

Plenty of Traction
It's expected that this will be your boot of choice when you have to walk on oil or other slick terrain, which is why it's been equipped with rubber slip-resistant soles that feature excellent traction.

Cost and Value
This boot comes at a fairly wide range of costs, but at its lowest, it's almost a steal. At its most expensive, it's not ideal, but it's still great for what this boot can do.
Pros
  • Rubber soles and traction keep you safe on slick terrain
  • Leather exterior is tough and hard to break down
  • Plush collar and coolness-inducing lining on the inside
  • Removable insole lets you use your own insert
Cons
  • Maybe not a great choice for wide feet
  • Could be difficult to find the right size for you

4. Timberland Pro Mudsill

4. Timberland Pro Mudsill
Ready to get to work in mud, sleet, rain, or snow? So is this shoe. Fortified against such problems as excessive moisture, electrical shocks, oil slips, and wear and tear, it's a great choice for anyone who's got to brave the dirtiest of the dirty to get their jobs done. It's even comfortable enough to wear all day, not just while you're navigating a messy workplace.
Expand to see more
Thinks of Everything
You've heard of safety shoes that save your toes from being smashed and keep you upright on slick floors. Now look at the shoes that also protect you against electrical hazards. No matter the potential danger of what you're doing, this shoe can help you.

Lets the Air In
The leather and fabric, while tough against the elements, is lightweight and breathable enough to make sure that you don't have to deal with the discomfort or health risks of moist feet all day.

Cost and Value
You'll definitely have to pay some pretty pennies for the protection that this shoe offers, but if it saves you even once from something that could have seriously hurt you, it would be worth the sacrifice.
Pros
  • Rubber sole that gives traction and fights slips
  • Resistant to electrical shock
  • Breathable leather and fabric construction
  • Comfortable enough to wear all day
Cons
  • May be difficult to break in

5. Keen Utility Flint Low

5. Keen Utility Flint Low
It resists oil slips, bad foot odor, and water and moisture both without and within. On the other hand, it facilitates arch support, security, and comfort. This shoe has basically got everything figured it out. Wear it for your work or hobbies all day long, then take it off with the happy knowledge that your foot has never felt better.
Expand to see more
Hygiene-Friendly
This shoe doesn't just think about how to keep you safe while on the job; it prepares for when you clock out, too. It's equipped with a CleanSport NXT to fight foot odor so that you get treated to a fresher smell at the end of the day than you would with most other shoes of its kind.

Tread Water With It
It takes other safety shoes' toughness against water a step further by putting a special emphasis on water resistance. If you have to work somewhere that might require submerging your foot a bit, this is a great shoe for you.

Cost and Value
You might say that it's a bit expensive for a shoe, but this isn't just any shoe. The price is a bit high, but it gives you a lot for every buck.
Pros
  • Water-resistant leather and fabric exterior
  • Slip-resistant rubber sole
  • Arch support and molded insole for comfort
  • Removable insole--great for gluing down inserts for orthopedic concerns
  • Fights foul foot odor
Cons
  • May wear out a bit quickly

6. Timberland Pro Titan

6. Timberland Pro Titan
So far, we've featured some shoes that do especially well in warm climates, but now it's time to tell you about a shoe that excels as a guard against the cold. The insole is molded to keep your foot nice, snug, and padded, but as if that were not enough, the very material of the shoe itself is created to move with you even when freezing temperatures might make other shoes too rigid.
Expand to see more
Perfect for the Cold
Because of the Vibram Fire & Ice compound that partially constitutes the shoe, it's fortified to remain bendable in freezing weather, which is essential in maintaining foot health and allowing you the freedom to move as you need.

Equal Parts Practical and Comfortable
This shoe doesn't just boast general arch support or a soft insole. It uses what's called a "PowerFit System," specifically designed to enhance comfort.

Cost and Value
It's a pretty expensive shoe, honestly, but forking out the money for it is certainly better than suffering the consequences of being unable to use your foot properly while you're working freezing weather.
Pros
  • Flexible even in freezing temperatures
  • Makes an extra effort to be comfortable
  • Padded collar for more warmth
  • Leather exterior guarantees durability
  • Great for wide feet
Cons
  • Possibility of sole splitting in half

7. Reebok Work Soyay

7. Reebok Work Soyay
They have all the charm of a sporty skateboard shoe and all the seriousness of a safety shoe, so if you like going out to play as soon as you're done with work, you can do it without even having to change your footwear. With excellent grip and defense against electrical hazards, the shoe is prepared for any and every intense environment to which you may bring it.
Expand to see more
Versatile Appearance
When you're leading a busy and active life, it's nice to worry about as few things as possible. Since this shoe can be worn at work and pretty much everywhere else without looking out of place, it can let you focus on enjoying your day.

Electricity is No Big Deal
Another great feature of the rubber and construction of the shoe is that you don't have to worry about electric shocks injuring you; this shoe can stop them.

Cost and Value
As far as safety shoes go, this one is actually rather affordable. You can feel assured that it wouldn't be a waste of money.
Pros
  • Rubber sole that helps with traction
  • Resistant to electrical shocks
  • Fun, sporty appearance
  • Reasonable price range
Cons
  • Insole may fall apart easily
  • Not good to wear on wet or slick floors

8. Timberland Pro 53534

8. Timberland Pro 53534
Here's a shoe for someone who works hard in the rough terrain but also likes maintaining a sense of classiness and style. If not for the steel toe box and ridged rubber sole, you might think that this was an office shoe. Not only does it give you a snazzy flair while keeping you safe, but it's designed to feel as good as it looks.
Expand to see more
Feelin' Good
This brand is known for its PowerFit comfort system, which tells you that their designers can methodically researched how best to keep your foot satisfied and free of pain. This shoe is a product of that research.

Safety in Style
Since the shoe looks so much classier than the average safety shoe, you can use it in multiple occasions and situations, meaning you get a lot of use for your money.

Cost and Value
This kind of quality definitely commands a high price. You'll need to be okay with shelling out a good amount of money for this shoe, but if it's up your alley, you'll be glad you did it.
Pros
  • Leather exterior implies longevity and endurance
  • Stylish appearance, appropriate for many environments
  • Uses PowerFit comfort system
  • Keeps your foot snug yet dry
Cons
  • Tends to run rather small, so it may be difficult to find the right size for you
  • Opening is small and tight, making it hard to put on for some

9. Keen Utility Atlanta Cool ESD

9. Keen Utility Atlanta Cool ESD
Lightweight, ventilated, dense and molded insole, padded collar, top-notch traction rubber on the bottom--this shoe can get you through the work day and still leave you feeling fresh after you clock out. It's also capable of guarding you from electrical hazards and slips, in addition to the standard characteristic of a steel toe box.
Expand to see more
Leather and Mesh--A Winning Combination
The main construction of the shoe is fashioned from leather--a demonstrably durable material--and mesh, which keeps the shoe clean and airy.

Nice and Light
Due to all the bells and whistles that they need to keep you safe from harm, safety shoes are not for being a bit heavy. However, this shoe manages to promise security and protection for you while remaining lightweight, so you feel less tired at the end of the day.

Cost and Value
This shoe is on the upper end of expensiveness, yes, but it can still be a great investment for anyone who wants a safety shoe with a bit of everything.
Pros
  • Resistant to slips and electrical shocks
  • Leather suggests durability
  • Mesh keeps the shoe ventilated and shielded from debris
  • Dense and molded insole/footbed
  • Insole can be removed, which is great for orthopedics who want to use an insert
Cons
  • May be difficult to find the right size for you

10. Stanley Dredge

10. Stanley Dredge
No laces, no problem. You can just slip on this safety boot and get right to work. Without weighing a ton, it uses a leather and rubber outsole to resist everything from electricity and oil to the usual wear and tear. Furthermore, it's fantastic at keeping unwanted moisture from seeping inside and soaking your foot. The whole boot is simple yet effective.
Expand to see more
Especially Comfortable
With its ability to keep out moisture, removable insole, and extra cavity in which you can place an insert, this shoe is committed to keeping your foot comfy as well as safe.

High Quality Leather and Rubber
It's made of 100% full grain leather and rubber, both of which are known for being long-lasting and strong against any events that might hinder your job performance, like oil slips or electric shocks.

Cost and Value
For what you get, this price is really a bargain. It certainly couldn't hurt to try it out and see what a great deal you're getting.
Pros
  • Made entirely of durable leather and rubber, which resist wear, oil, and electricity,
  • Removable insole, which is great for orthopedic inserts, along with additional cavity for more inserts (and therefore more comfort)
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Easy to slip on or off--no laces
  • Keeps out moisture
Cons
  • Tends to run a bit small, so it may tricky to find the right fit
  • Attracts steel chips; not ideal for those who work with shards of steel or other metal

As someone looking for the best safety shoes available, that leaves you with a lot of things to consider. After all, you need to find shoes with a superbly steel-reinforced toe, a midsole plate, and all the other qualities that you would expect from a decent shoe, like arch support or shock absorption. Fortunately, we’re here to help with this list of the 10 best safety shoes. Take a look.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Safety Shoes

 

Necessity of the Steel Toe Box

Though they can be a bit heavy on your foot (and poorly built shoes may cause the steel to dig into your toes too much), the steel toe box is an indispensable aspect of a safety shoe. Some of the most accidents in workplace or other potentially danger environments involve something crushing or rolling over someone’s foot. Steel toe boxes prevent (or at least minimize) any damage that might be done by such accidents. An acceptable alternative to the steel toe would be a composite toe. Every single shoe in this top ten list has a steel toe box. Even if it’s not specifically mentioned, be assured that it’s there, or else it wouldn’t be on this list at all, no matter what other qualities it might have had.

Midsole Plate is Great, Too

Another frequent source of injury in hazardous jobs and situations is something sharp puncturing through your shoe’s outsole and insole and stabbing your foot. The midsole plate goes around the interior of the shoe and offers an additional layer of protection, lessening the likelihood that you would suffer from this problem. Most (if not all) of the shoes in this list features midsole plates to encourage an extra measure of safety.

Reasonable Comfort Level

Shoes aren’t only made to protect; they’re also made to be comfortable. A safety shoe can only help you so much if you end up with hurting feet at the end of the day. However, some safety shoes really do put so much focus into the safety aspect that they neglect the comfort. The shoes on this list are known for being keeping your feet happy and secure.

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What exactly is a safety shoe?

A: To be classified as a safety shoe, it must meet certain requirements as outlined by OSHA. For example, it must be resistant to heat, cold, pressure/impact, puncture, and electricity. This usually constitutes a steel toe box or composite toe, a midsole plate, and strong materials, like leather and rubber.

Q: Does it need to be specially certified to count as a safety shoe?

A: There are exceptions to most rules in life, but the quickest way to know whether a shoe is safe to use for hazardous work is if it passes inspection from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and/or the American Society of Testing & Materials (ASTM). If a brand is serious about selling as many safety shoes as possible, they’ll get the shoes approved by one or both organizations and make sure that you know it. Most will include a note in the shoe’s official description.

Q: What’s the most important aspect of a safety shoe?

A: This may be a matter of opinion, but it’s probably the steel toe box. It guards you from the most painful and serious injuries that may occur on the job.

Q: Where can/should you wear a safety shoe?

A: Although they’re usually created with dangerous jobs in mind, safety shoes can be useful in a variety of activities and environments in which you risk hurting your foot. Some businesses recommend safety shoes if they tend to have slippery floors, such as restaurants. They could come in handy in some types of outdoor (and especially dirty) sports, as well as more leisurely activities, like camping. If your hobby is carpentry, automotive repair, construction, etc., you may benefit from wearing safety shoes despite not being required by law. Basically, if you’re ever doing anything that’s risky and involves working with a lot of heavy and/or sharp objects, you’ll probably want to wear safety shoes.

Q: What’s the best way to clean a safety shoe?

A: Because they have so many functions designed to enhance your safety, these shoes can be a bit more high maintenance than others with regard to cleaning them, and the process may differ slightly depending on the materials from which they’re made. However, the general process for cleaning most safety shoes and boots is more or less the same. You’ll first need to remove any excess dirt with a shoe brush, then oil them up a bit, and finally buff them. Throwing them into a washing machine is usually not recommended.

Sources

  1. safeopedia, safety-shoes,
  2. ohsonline, Proper-Foot-Protection-Made-Simple,
  3. gemplers, tech/fow-faq,
  4. oureverydaylife, how-do-i-clean-safety-boots,
  5. safetyequipmentfaq, steel-toe-boots-and-osha,
  6. workingperson, why-wear-protective-footwear,