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.

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.

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.

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By Mackenzie Jervis:

The recent update of the Best Safety Shoes included adding new brands to our top list. If you want something a bit more stylish and casual than your normal safety shoes we have added the Puma and Reebok options. Make sure to check out our criteria to see how we came up with our top list and to better understand the items we have chosen.

Skechers Synergy Ekron
  • Skechers Synergy Ekron
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Versatile Wear
  • Excellent Traction
  • Price: See Here
Caterpillar Second Shift
  • Caterpillar Second Shift
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Removable Insole
  • Roomy Fit
  • Price: See Here
Keen Utility Atlanta
  • Keen Utility Atlanta
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Asymmetrical Steel Toes
  • Anti-Slip Rubber Sole
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Safety Shoes

 

Skechers Synergy Ekron

Skechers shoes are trusted by millions across the globe because of the comfort, durability, and style of their shoes. The Synergy Ekron is built with the working class in mind. They offer a lightweight composite toe and electrical resistance. When looking for comfort, look towards Skechers. The use of a memory foam footbed will keep your feet feeling great, even after long hours.
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Composite Toe
Offering the same protection as a steel toe, the use of a composite blend gives this shoe a lighter weight. In addition, it is very durable and non-metallic. Meaning you won't have to worry about going through security at the airport if you happen to be wearing your work shoes. The lightness plays a role in keeping your muscles and joints feeling good.

Slip Resistant
Keeping your toes protected is important, keeping the rest of your body protected is just as important. Falling on slippery or wet surfaces can lead to an unknown number of injuries including sprains and breaks. The sole of these shoes will keep you planted firmly on your feet helping you avoid serious injury.

Cost and Value
Due to the fact that the brand Skechers is so giant, it is surprising how affordable these shoes are. Oftentimes we see price hikes because of popularity, this isn't the case here. Most budgets will be able to afford these superior safety shoes.
Pros
  • Exceptionally Comfortable
  • Good Price
  • Trusted Brand
  • Excellent Grip & Traction
  • Versatile Wear
Cons
  • Toe Cap May Rub

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.
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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
  • Great Traction
  • Tough Exterior
  • Keep Feet Cool
  • Removable Insole
Cons
  • Narrow Fit
  • Difficult Sizing

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 the 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.
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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
  • Helps Maintain Dry Feet
  • Removeable Footbed
  • Sturdy Build
  • Anti-Slip Rubber Sole
Cons
  • Squeaky
  • Difficult Lacing

Keen Utility Flint Low

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.
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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
  • Slip-Resistant Rubber Sole
  • Arch Support
  • Molded Insole 
  • Fights Foul Foot Odor
Cons
  • Durability Issues

Timberland Pro 53534

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.
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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
  • Extended Use
  • Stylish Appearance, 
  • Uses PowerFit Comfort System
  • Excellent Fit
  • Keeps Feet Dry
Cons
  • Sizing Runs Small
  • Difficult to Put On

Timberland Pro Pitboss

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.
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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 Control The Fit
Cons
  • Not For Everyday Use

Timberland Powertrain

Timberland Powertrain
Timberland is a powerhouse in this category and that is easily seen with how many spots in our guide they are feeling. The Powertrain option gives you an abrasion resistant upper, an alloy protective toe, and the ability to dissipate static. In addition to all of this, you won't have to worry about lasting foul odors or discomfort in your safety shoes. These shoes are built to work and please.
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Anti-Fatigue Outsole
The structure and design of this option is one that keeps your feet, legs, and back feeling great all day. The outsole is made of Polyurethane which is great at absorbing shock. In addition, the design of the outsole is flexible and will move naturally with your feet which adds to the overall comfort level.

Antimicrobial Lining
The mesh lining in these shoes is treated to help stop odor and bacteria build up. It will help move moisture away from your feet. In addition, it dries quickly so your feet will stay cool and comfortable. We all know how bad work shoes can smell and often they are still damp the next day from sweat. You won't have to worry about either of these things if you choose these.

Cost and Value
The unique look and great design of this shoe fall to the middle of our pricing. Most budgets will be able to fit them in. You will get an extremely comfortable and forgiving pair of safety shoes that will do well in any casual environment.
Pros
  • Exceptionally Lightweight
  • Very Breathable
  • No Break-In Period
  • Stylish Look
  • Great for Casual Environments
Cons
  • Narrow Fit

Keen Utility Atlanta Cool ESD

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.
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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
  • Resistant To Electrical Shocks
  • Durable Materials
  • Good Ventilation
  • Dense & Molded Insole
  • Removable Insole
Cons
  • Difficult Sizing

Timberland Pro Titan

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.
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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 In Freezing Temperatures
  • Supreme Comfort
  • Padded Collar=Extra Warmth
  • Leather Exterior Guarantees Durability
  • Great For Wide Feet
Cons
  • Sole Durability

Reebok Work

Reebok Work
When we think of the Reebok name we don't usually think of safety shoes. In recent years many brands are branching out and trying to meet the needs of a wider variety of clientele. These shoes are breathable and flexible yet still offer great toe protection and protection from electrical hazards. In addition to all of this, they also offer you a slip-resistant outsole.
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MemoryTech Footbed
Breaking shoes in can take a long time and lead to painful blisters and rubbed areas on your feet. The MemoryTech Footbed instantly starts conforming to your feet and its natural curves. This provides instant comfort to the person wearing them.

Flex Grooves
Due to the fact that Reebok builds running shoes, they understand how important flexibility is to overall comfort. Their Flex Groove outsole allows this choice to move with you and keep you at an optimal level of comfort. In addition, it will allow water to move easily and keep you on your feet.

Cost and Value
The unique casual style and great protective features of this shoe will cost you a bit more than others. You may need to adjust the budget to afford them but they will transition nicely between work and play. If you are looking for something that will look awesome at any casual event and keep your feet comfortable and protected, this may be your perfect option.
Pros
  • No Break-In Period
  • Excellent Breathability
  • Very Light
  • Exceptionally Flexible
  • Awesome for Daily Wear
Cons
  • Little Arch Support
  • Costly

 

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 for Evaluating the Best Safety Shoes

Criteria Best Safety Boots

Safety Features

Different jobs require different safety features when it comes to your footwear. Some jobs, like logging, may require just a steel toe, other jobs like being a machinist may require a puncture-proof plate and a steel toe. Whatever your need may be there is certainly a shoe or boot out there to meet the requirement of your job. Before purchasing a new pair of shoes for work you will want to check what criteria is needed. You certainly don’t want to buy a pair to find out they are lacking something that is required.

Oftentimes, you will see a symbol rather than words for what the shoe is resistant to. This can be confusing but it is very important to understand. Again, purchasing something that isn’t approved for the task you are going to be doing is not only a waste of time it is a major waste of money.  Let’s take a look at the different areas and symbols you will come into contact with.

  • Green Triangle: 
    The green triangle means that the shoe has a grade 1 toe cap and puncture resistant plate lining the bottom. This is ideal for construction environments, where the bottom of your shoe may come in contact with broken glass, nails, or other sharp debris.
  • Yellow Triangle: 
    The yellow triangle means the shoe has a grade 2 toe cap and puncture resistant plate. These are better suited for light industry as they offer less protection than a shoe that offers a green triangle.
  • White Square with Orange OHM Symbol: 
    This symbol means the shoes offer electrical protection. If you work in an environment where there are live wires or a chance of coming in contact with electricity this is certainly something you will need in your shoes.
  • Yellow Square with Green SD and Grounding Symbol: 
    These shoes will offer static resistance. They reduce static charge in high-static areas. If static discharge is in the environment that you are this will surely be a standard for employment.
  •  Red Square with Black C and Grounding Symbol:
    This type of shoe has a sole that is electrically conductive. You will need this if you work in a situation where you may be exposed to low electrical charges.
  • White Square with a Pine Tree: 
    If you work with chainsaws than these are the boots you are going to need. They offer resistance to cutting equipment that is found in this type of work.
  • Blue Square with a White Circle and Letter R: 
    This shoe or boot will offer class one toe protection, however, it does not offer any sole protection. These will fit in a manufacturing situation where you don’t have to worry about the bottom of your shoe being punctured.
  • Gray Square with a Black Circle and Letter R: 
    These offer a class two toe protector. They do not offer any sole protection so they will be better for a light duty protective toe need.

Regardless of your need for protection know there are many good options out there. Too much protection is better than not enough. Knowing what you are looking at when looking over the symbols will be very beneficial during your hunt for the best safety shoes.

Jeans Best Work Boots

Comfort

People that have the requirement of safety shoes typically stand all day long. This can cause pain and discomfort if you are wearing ill-fitting or poorly built shoes. Standing all day can also lead to leg and back pain. Finding boots that offer features of comfort or customization ability can make wearing your shoes long day after long day much more bearable.

There are a few different things that should be considered when looking at the overall comfort of your shoe. Some of these you won’t have an option for. Due to the fact that some will need a protective plate lining the bottom of their shoe when it comes to the flexibility you won’t have a lot of it.

  • Outsole: 
    When it comes to the outsole different materials absorb and distribute impact differently. Rubber is most commonly used and does a fairly good job of dispersing shock. Rubber is also decently flexible. This allows your foot to move more naturally and will, in turn, have you feeling less pain. This is where those of you that need a protective plate on the sole will lose a lot in flexibility.
  • Insole:
    In the category of comfort, this is probably the most important aspect. There are a variety of materials for insoles. EVA foam and varieties of it are superior. They do a great job at conforming to the foot and absorbing shock. It is important to note, finding a shoe with a removable insole can be crucial to your comfort if you wear a custom orthotic or special insert. Another advantage of a removable insole is the longevity of use. Oftentimes due to the durable nature of this type of product, the inside will wear before the outside. The ability to simply replace the insole saves you time and money.
  • Upper Material: 
    You most often see the upper of a safety shoe to be leather. You may also find synthetic blends and different textile materials mixed in.  A solid leather boot to be less flexible and less breathable yet also much more durable. Synthetic blends wear quicker but can offer better flexibility and added comfort. Those that use fabric in their shoes are offering better breathability and added flexibility. This, however, may reduce the overall protection and durability of the shoe.

A couple other important aspects to look into when thinking about comfort are the overall flexibility and breathability of your shoes. At the end of the day how your shoes move with your feet and how dry you can keep them will help decide if you are wearing the perfect footwear or the worst ever. As always, keep in mind, depending on your job requirements you may not have much wiggle room in flexibility and breathability.

  • Flexibility:
    When considering comfort you also need to take flexibility into account. How a shoe or boot moves will greatly impact how you feel at the end of the day. Due to the more rigid nature of this type of shoe, finding one that offers adequate protection yet is also flexible, can feel impossible. For some situations, it is, others will find it quite easy because all they need is a moderate amount of toe protection. You may not have an option of a flexible sole but the upper material does play its part.
  • Breathability:
    The last item we thought about when looking into comfort was the overall breathability. Hot sweaty feet can lead to a variety of problems. You will be constantly battling odor. In addition, you are susceptible to bacterial or fungal growth, rubbed, raw skin, and blisters.  Wearing a shoe that breaths will help you keep your feet dry. A breathable upper paired with a liner that wicks sweat is the perfect options. Finding safety shoes that are breathable is not so easy though due to the fact more often than not the majority of the shoe is made of leather. A mixture of tough leather and some textile will increase breathability and help to keep your feet cool. It is important to note, the socks you wear also play a huge role in how dry your feet stay during a long afternoon.

chainsaw best safety shoes

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: The answer to this question really depends on your use of the shoe. Depending on your work requirement or situation, for one it may be a superior steel cap for others it may be electricity resistance. If you are in need of a safety shoe for recreational endeavors, a good idea would be to check out what the industry standards are for what you want to do. This way if you are building a cabin and cutting down trees you know you want a boot or shoe made for logging or if you have taken up metal working you may need a plate to protect the bottom of your foot. Looking over a few articles should lead you in the right direction about what the most important aspect will be for your particular adventure.

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,


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