Workplace injuries are common in Australia. Although on a decline since 2008, injuries and fatalities still happen, leading to over 120,000 serious claims from 2019-2020. According to Edway Training, a white card and first aid training provider in Australia, lifting or handling objects is one of the top reasons for work-related injuries.
While the statistics above do not solely focus on foot injuries, it is still significant to have safety precautions to protect the workers’ feet. Something can fall onto the feet, roll through, or cut through them. That’s where safety boots like composite toe boots come into play.
What are Composite Toe Safety Boots?
If you’re familiar with steel toe work boots, you’ll find composite toe work boots easy to understand. These two types of safety footwear have similarities, except composite toe boots do not have the extra weight and electric conductivity that the other type is known for. If you’ve worn steel toes before but complained about the discomfort, you will not have the same issue with composite toe boots.
A composite toe is a safety boot with a protective toe box. However, this toe box is not comprised of metal. Its shanks and other parts are made of composite materials, hence the name. Workers who require additional protection for their toes should wear safety footwear, such as composite toe boots. Here are some reasons why:
- The shoes do not get easily dented on impact from heavy objects.
- The toe caps are softer than those made of steel or alloy.
- Because they’re made of composite materials, the boots don’t set off metal detectors.
Composite toes are also lauded for being lightweight. They are more comfortable to wear even during cold winters or hot summers. Because they are not electricity conductors, you can stay safe in workplaces with electrical hazards. Therefore, if you work in nuclear plants, airports, courts, or other similar work environments, you will benefit from wearing composite toe boots.
Differences between Composite Toe and Steel Cap Boots
Before you hurriedly buy a pair of composite toe boots, we suggest that you recognise other options you have. A popular alternative is a steel cap, although it is, in fact, the more popular choice. Steel cap boots have been around for numerous decades. Some people pertain to steel cap boots when they mean work boots, showcasing the boots’ predominance in the safety footwear scene.
Steel cap boots, as the name suggests, are made of steel. This rugged, durable material ensures that workers in risky environments can rely on their boots for their feet’s safety. Many steel cap toe boots are puncture-resistant, slip-resistant, waterproof, and dust-proof. Unfortunately, steel makes the boots heavy, making it impossible for certain tasks to be carried out without extra effort. For this reason, a composite toe is a better option. They’re about 30% lighter than steel toes and are more comfortable to wear no matter the temperatures.
Now, a more important question: Are composite toe boots as safe as steel caps? Whilst it is true that steel caps set foot protection standards pretty high, thanks to the intensive pressure tests they are subjected to, composite toe boots also offer the same degree of safety. Of course, composites are not as strong as steel (at least none yet), but they also undergo rigorous impact and pressure tests. As long as you pick a reputable brand, your feet will get the protection they require without the heaviness and discomfort from steel caps.
Composite Toe Boot Materials
Composite toe caps are made from a wide variety of materials, differing from one supplier to the next. However, the most commonly used materials are:
- Carbon fibre
- Kevlar (aramid fibre)
- Graphite fibre
Composite toe caps can also be made from plastics moulded into another material much stronger than the original material on its own.
Generally, composite toe work boots have two classifications:
- Thermoplastic: A thermoplastic toe cap is made from polycarbonate (PC) or polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) material often utilised in vehicle bumpers. Thermoplastics are known for their high-impact strength. Therefore, when injected into the toe cap, the object becomes stronger and more durable than ever.
- Composite: There are different ways to construct non-steel toe caps, including filling fibreglass sheets with resin. They are then layered and pressed together to thin them out before creating the toe cap shape.
Thermoplastics and composites may not be as strong as steel, but they are also used in heavy-duty applications like space equipment, bulletproof vests, yachts, and car exteriors. Composites are rigid because carbon is the base material, which, by the way, is the same material that diamonds are made out of.
Choosing the Right Work Boots for You
Are composite-toe boots the right pair to wear at work? Perhaps steel toe caps will work better, or should you look at alternatives like alloy toes? To determine the best choice, here are some questions to ask before you buy your work safety boots:
- Do you pass through a metal detector when at work? If so, you need to stay away from steel toes.
- Does your job include working with heavy machinery? Do you regularly carry or lift weighty objects that, when dropped accidentally, might cause significant damage to your feet? You will need substantial protection from such accidents.
- Are you willing to invest a lot of money in your work shoes?
- Is comfort essential when performing your work duties? Remember that weight can be an issue, which may lead to fatigue when worn throughout the day. If you stand all day, going light is a good choice.
For the best protection, choose safety boots that comply with Australian and New Zealand standards AS/NZS 2210.2:2009 and 2210.3:2010. For American and European standards, refer to ASTM F2413 and EN ISO 20345, respectively. These standards imply that the footwear underwent meticulous impact and compression tests.
Best Composite Toe Boots
Here are our top five recommended composite toe work boots for you:
- King Gee 6-inch Phoenix Side Zip Safety Boot: Comes with protection from electrical hazards. These boots have all the benefits composite toes offer. They are made with Kevlar toe caps and have up to 300-degree Celsius heat resistance. For ultra-heel comfort, these work boots have footbeds made of memory foam, which you can remove if you desire.
- Magnum Waterproof Zip Safety Boot: Best for workers who work outdoors or in labs where chemical spills can occur. With composite toe caps, padded foam collar and tongue, and PU insole, these boots are not only comfortable but also offer superior protection.
- Olive Composite Safety Toe: Designed especially for workers who require protection against spark ignition risks and hazards, these composite toe boots offer incredible safety features to the wearer. With up to 300-degree Celsius heat resistance, anti-abrasion, and antistatic qualities, you’ll never worry about your feet’s safety again.
- Steel Blue Argyle Composite Zip: For the unbeatable classic style, Steel Blue’s The Argyle is an excellent choice for men. These ankle boots come with a padded collar and tongue, so you stay comfortable even when you’re on your feet the whole day.
- Blundstone Ladies Composite Safety Boots: Are you looking for black leather boots with water, heat-resisting, and moisture-wicking capabilities? Blundstone offers a stylish pair of composite toe safety work boots that are best for hard-working ladies.
Don’t hesitate to talk to us if you have enquiries regarding the best size, quality, underfoot pierce protection and other safety features.