The History of Safety Shoes

How Did Safety Shoes Originate?
Do You Know About the Exciting History of Safety Shoes? Learn How Safety Shoes Have Evolved & Improved Over the Years. Continue Reading…
Safety Shoes History

Have you ever wondered where safety shoes come from or what’s the history of safety shoes?

From the beginning of the 19th century, foot protection became necessary because the industrial industry began booming.

Back then, a worker was cheaper to replace than implementing safety measures.

Through this article, you’ll discover:

    What Are Work Boots?

    They are footwear that protects the wearer from any hurt, which can be caused by their occupation.

    There are safety work boots for all trades that protect workers from chemicals, water, or even steel-toed boots if something heavy falls on their toes.

    The First Safety Boot

    The first safety boot introduced as foot protection was made of wood and called sabots1.

    Sabots had a fundamental design of a block of wood that gets hollowed out.

    They became popular because people started to move to the cities for work.

    You see

    French and Breton’s peasants mostly wore sabots, and it protected their feet from falling items.

    Farmers would commonly wear them in the event of a horse or cow stepping on their feet.

    Interestingly, the word sabotage comes from when workers would want to destroy machinery to halt production, and they would throw sabots into the gears.

    Before sabots got invented, clogs or leather boots got worn by workers.

    Today, regular people and people in the military personnel still wear them.

    Steel-Toed Boots

    By the early 20th century, work boots shifted to steel-toed boots2.

    Industrialization was widespread, and injuries at the workplace started to increase.

    There were no laws protecting workers, and they needed good work boots to protect their feet.


    Red Wing Shoes started manufacturing these steel-toed boots in the early 1930s.

    Around the same time, Germany began reinforcing its soldiers marching boots with steel toe caps.

    These safety shoes became standard boots for soldiers during World War II.

    Introduction to Safety Laws

    Safety issues came into question when Compensation laws came into fruition.

    Companies finally realized that replacing an injured worker instead of paying compensation was not the right choice anymore.

    During these beginning phases of Compensation law implementation, steel-toed boots got invented.

    These safety boots prevented many work-related injuries.

    Companies saw the liability costs and focused their efforts to ensure the safety of their workers.

    But wait, let me tell you something.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Act got passed in the United States.

    The administration must oversee and set the standards for workplace safety since 1970.

    They hold companies liable for injuries and ensure that safety equipment and procedures are in place to protect workers.

    Industries where these safety boots are in use today are mining and construction.

    It is a requirement for steel-toe boots to be worn to prevent foot-related injuries in the workplace.


    Companies such as the Dutch State Mines (DSM) came up with a creative way to keep their injured workers employed.

    The DSM started a shoe factory designing and manufacturing safety footwear for safer and sturdier boots for the miners.

    Steel-Toe Shoes as a Fashion

    Safety boots have become a trend over the years as a must-have fashion item.

    Subcultures such as punks in the 1960s started to wear steel-toed boots or other safety gear as everyday wear.

    Best of all

    As this style grew, so did the variety of different types and colors of the shoe.

    They get made with other materials instead of steel reinforcement, such as plastic and composite material in some boots.

    With this continuous development and improvements, today, steel toes boots are sturdier than ever before.

    Choosing the Right Shoe

    Having the right shoe is essential, and some fashion steel-toe shoes won’t offer the same protection in the workplace.

    There is a guideline on what considerations to keep in mind when shopping for the right comfortable safety shoes:

    • Make sure the shoes are flat, and the base of the heel space must be wide
    • From heel to the big toe, the safety shoe must be straight
    • The heel must have a firm grip on the shoe
    • The reinforced steel-toe area must be spacious enough to move the toes
    • The foot must not be able to slip out of the shoe, so the instep must be adequately fastened

    Safety boots also protect your feet from heat and cold, stepping on sharp objects causing injuries and preventing your skin from exposure to harmful chemicals.

    Avoiding injuries is why choosing the right safety work shoe is essential.

    Types of Injuries

    There are different causes of work-related injuries:

    • Injuries causing crushing, sprains, and lacerations which account for up to 10% of work-related injuries
    • Injuries related to slipping, tripping, and falling account for 15% of injuries

    What we learn from this is that training is an essential part of safety measures.

    Educate employees on being careful in their environment and using all safety equipment and using them.

    As if that’s not enough

    Just one foot consists of 26 bones with muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves3.

    An injury such as something piercing through your shoe or dropped on your foot can be very painful.

    These injuries can even affect your capability to work, and it is a risk to your quality of life.

    Steel-toed safety shoes can reduce the severity of such damages.

    Common Questions

    What is the meaning of safety shoes?

    Why are safety boots essential?

    Do safety shoes expire?

    Are safety boots a legal requirement?

    In Conclusion

    Safety boots are essential in some industries, such as mining or construction.

    You can prevent serious injuries by wearing them and reduce the severity of any should they occur.

    Protect your feet in the workplace and prevent injuries wearing steel-toed work boots.

    Simply put

    Be sure to follow the guideline and choose the right shoe for you.

    Educate your employees on the workplace’s best safety practices4 and utilize all safety equipment provided to them.

    We hope the history of safety shoes gave you a better understanding of where they come from and why they’re important.

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