Understanding Steel Toe Ratings

One of the most important parts of any personal protective equipment set is the steel-toe boot. Our feet are surprisingly delicate and something of only a few pounds can cause not only immeasurable pain when it falls on our foot, but also cripple us for the rest of our life. This is why steel-toe protection is required on nearly any job site where the possibility of injury is increased. While you may not need it in an office, you will need it working on a construction site, in the oil industry and even in the transportation industry.

Even if you think it is overkill to have steel-toe boots on, when the worst happens and something lands on your foot, you will be very happy for that steel plate protecting your very delicate toes.

When buying a steel-toe boot, you may notice that there are various symbols on the boot. Each symbol details a different aspect of the safety precautions taken with the boot. Understanding these symbols can ensure you have the right boot for the job.

In Canada, the Canadian Standards Association has been using symbols on footwear for more than three decades now. In order to be considered a safety shoe, the shoe must meet at least one of five criteria. These criteria are:

  1. 1, 2 or 0: This code details whether or not there is a steel-toe cap on the shoe. If the code has a 0, then there is no cap. If there is a 1, it means it can protect from a 22.7 kg object falling from half a meter up. A 2 means it can protect from a slightly shorter distance and lighter object.
  2. P or 0: This code determines the puncture protection of the shoe. A 0 means there is no protection and a P means that it protects the arches of the foot from puncture.
  3. M or 0: This code indicates whether or not the shoe has metatarsus protection against shock or collisions. Once again, 0 means it does not while M means that it does.
  4. E, S or C: This code details whether or not it can protect against electricity. E means it resists electrical shocks, S means it will disperse static electricity and C means it will conduct electricity.
  5. X or 0: This code is only found on shoes that will protect the foot from an errant chainsaw. X means it will protect, 0 means it will not.

A code of 1P0E0 means that the shoe will protect from a falling object on the toe, will protect the arch from puncture, will not protect from shock or collision, will conduct electricity but will not protect from a chainsaw.

In regards to the symbols, they are as follows:

  1. Green Triangle with CSA symbol: This offers puncture protection with Grade 1 protective toe.
  2. Yellow Triangle with Registered symbol: This provides puncture protection with Grade 2 protective toe.
  3. Yellow Rectangle with Green “SD”, a grounding symbol and CSA symbol: This means it will dissipate an electrical charge.
  4. White Rectangle with Orange “Omega” symbol and CSA symbol: This means the shoe will provide electric shock resistance.
  5. Red Rectangle with Black “C”, grounding symbol and CSA symbol: This means that the shoe will conduct electricity.
  6. White Label with Green Fir Tree symbol and CSA symbol: This shoe will protect against chainsaws.
  7. Blue Square with CSA symbol: This will provide only a Grade 1 protective toe.