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Understanding ASTM Footwear Standards

ASTM Footwear Standards— What they Mean

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets the standards and testing procedures for safety footwear. One shoe of each pair must be clearly labeled (stamped on, stitched in, etc.) on the shaft, gusset, tongue or quarter lining with the standards that the footwear meets. Use the guide below to understand the standards and help you to find boots that fit your needs.

Steel Toe Work Boots

How to Read the Safety Standards

ASTM F2413-11
M I/75 C/75 Mt75

First Line:
—specifies the test methods that measure the resistance of protective footwear against a range of hazards that can produce an injury in the workplace.    

specifies the minimum performance requirements protective footwear needs to meet to resist a range of hazards that can produce an injury in the workplace.

The 11 after the dash signifies the footwear meets the ASTM F2412 or F2413 requirements issued in 2011.

Second Line:
The second line starts by identifying the gender of the user the footwear was made for (M = Male or F = Female). It is then followed by the footwear's ratings.

Impact (I/75).  Safety toe footwear is tested to meet one of two units of measurement for impact rating: 50 or 75 pounds. Footwear rated I/50 will protect toes from an impact up to 50 pounds and I/75 will protect against 75 pounds. The impact test is performed by dropping a 50-pound weight at a height of 18 inches at a designated speed. 

Compression (C/75). Safety toe footwear is tested to meet one of two units of measurement for compression rating: C/50 or C/75. Footwear with a C/50 rating can withstand compressive loads up to 1,750 pounds while C/75 footwear can withstand 2,500 pounds.

Metatarsal (Mt/75). Metatarsal protective footwear must first meet impact and compression class 75 requirements. The metatarsal test is performed by dropping a 50-pound weight at a height of 18 inches onto the metatarsal guard. The standard does not cover aftermarket add-on guards.

Third Line:
The third line lists additional hazards the footwear protects the user from.

Conductive (Cd) footwear protects the user from hazards that may result from a build up of static electricity and to reduce the potential of explosives or volatile chemicals from igniting.

Electrical Hazard (EH) footwear has non-conductive, electrical shock-resistant heels and soles able to withstand the application of 18,000V at 60 Hz for one minute without any current flow or leakage current in exceeding one millampere (mA) under dry conditions.

Static Dissipative (SD) is designed to protect users against hazards that may exist due to excessively low footwear resistance and to maintain a high level of resistance to decrease the possibility of electric shock. The footwear must meet a lower limit of electrical resistance of 106 ohms and an upper limit of 108 ohms.

Puncture-resistant (PR) footwear has a puncture-resistant plate between the insole and outsole and is a permanent part of the footwear. The footwear must have a minimum puncture resistance of 270 pounds and show no signs of cracking after 1.5 million flexes.

Shop all GEMPLER'S ASTM Footwear

Q: Are add-on protective devices sufficient?
A: According to both ANSI and ASTM standards, protective toe caps must be an integral and permanent part of the footwear, so add-on devices do not meet those requirements. While those two standards exclude add-ons, however, it does not mean that such devices are not acceptable to OSHA. Those standards state that if the device has independent testing data to show that it provides protection equivalent to the ANSI requirement, then the add-on protective devices are acceptable to OSHA.

Q: What is a composite toe?
A: A composite toe is essentially the same as a steel toe, but it is non-metallic and non-magnetic. It is slightly lighter (mere grams) in weight than a steel toe cap, but meets the same ANSI/ASTM safety requirements as a steel toe.

Q: Which is better, a steel toe or a composite toe?
A: Both styles of safety toe caps offer the wearer a measure of protection because each meets ANSI/ASTM safety requirements. Steel toe boots tend to be slightly heavier (mere grams) than composite toe boots, but many people feel that a steel toe cap affords them more protection.

Q: What type of work is a composite toe boot best suited for?
A: Composite toe boots are better suited for those who must pass through metal detectors (nuclear workers, airport workers and security personnel) during the course of their work day.

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