Are Work Boots Considered PPE?

Are You Sure Your Work Boots Are PPE?
Do Your Work Boots Classify as Personal Protective Equipment? Find Out What Differentiates PPE Work Boots & Non-PPE Work Boots. Continue Reading…
Are Work Boots Considered PPE?

Some clarification on if work boots are considered PPE. Work boots that are considered PPE, as personal protective equipment (PPE), is defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as anything that protects you from injuries, illnesses, or infection.

The use of PPE is absolutely crucial as a precautionary measure for industries known to be more dangerous than others, such as manufacturing and mining.

Injuries that result from not using PPE range from mild scratches to amputations, and even death.

Rather than get electrocuted at your workplace from wearing the wrong boots, read our shocking article on whether work boots are considered PPE to avoid workplace injury.

In this article, we’ll shed light on:

    Our editorial team at MyBestWorkBoots strives to bring you the latest in safety footwear news.

    Hence, we collated this keenly insightful evaluation of whether work boots are PPE.

    Here’s what we’ve found.

    What Qualifies as PPE Equipment?

    What qualifies as personal protective equipment (PPE) is defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as anything that protects you from injuries, illnesses, or infection.

    Examples of PPE equipment include: 

    • Face shields and goggles
    • Gloves
    • Helmets
    • Respirators
    • Face masks

    Some boots are also considered PPE since they keep the wearer safe, although they appear to be business casual work boots.

    PPE is defined by law as “all the equipment (including weather-protective clothing) designed to be used by a person at their place of work to protect them from any dangers to their safety or health.”

    PPE is commonly used in clinics, laboratories, and hospitals in health care settings.

    PPE acts as a barrier between the user and potentially infectious particles. 

    In addition to that

    It may protect you from being exposed to bacterial or viral pollutants.

    PPE is used on construction sites to safeguard workers from injuries or illnesses caused by chemical, electrical, physical, and mechanical risks.

    PPE equipment for the workplace comprises helmets, vests, gloves, goggles, coveralls, safety work boots, and overalls.

    The FDA analyzes devices that qualify as PPE equipment in the United States.

    Manufacturers must demonstrate to the authority that their products meet all performance criteria.

    Examples of PPE Equipment for Construction Workers

    Examples of PPE equipment for construction workers are:

    • Safety helmets for protecting the head.
    • Eye goggles that protect against particles, liquids, lasers, and flashes.
    • Earmuffs that provide ear protection from loud machinery.
    • High-visibility vest to make other drivers and staff aware of your presence.
    • Protection hand gloves that shield against sharp and hot objects, as well as electrical, chemical, and biological dangers
    • Using a harness lanyard to keep yourself safe when working at a height above 6 feet.
    • The use of ballistic fibers in chap pants to protect your legs from construction site risks.
    • Work boots to shield your feet from hot, slick, and jagged surfaces and chemical, electrical, and biological risks.

    What Safety Work Boots Are Not Considered PPE? 

    Safety work boots are not considered PPE when they don’t meet the requirements designed to protect the wearer from hazards in the workplace. 

    Work Boots That Don’t Meet the Osha Standards for Safety

    Work boots that don’t meet the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) standards for safety are:

    • Any boot that is not specifically designed to protect employees’ health and safety.
    • Sporting shoes.
    • Decorative shoes.
    • Cowboy boots.
    • Any work boot does not meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) minimum standards.
    • Boots with insufficient protection for their working environment.
    • Boots that lack the anti-toe-collision steel-toe feature.
    • Work boots that aren’t strong enough to withstand being punctured by nails or sharp items.
    • Work boots that don’t provide adequate traction.

    Features a Safety Work Boot Must Have

    There are features a safety work boots must have, like a design protective enough to shield your feet from falling, rolling, or being punctured.

    Additionally, safety boots must protect you against hot surfaces, slick floors, uneven terrain, and electrical risks. 

    Employees who operate in factories that use hot, acidic, or dangerous substances must wear waterproof safety boots.

    And that’s not all

    Electrical technicians and anyone operating in an electrically hazardous environment must wear insulating non-conductive work boots.

    Employees must also wear conductive boots if they work where static electricity is present.

    OSHA and the FDA have developed a concise set of features that classify a work boot as safe.

    Safety work boots must adhere to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) 2413-05 safety footwear standards.

    PPE Work Boot Safety Standards

    PPE work boot safety standards include OSHA, ASTM, and ANSI standards. 

    Let’s take a closer look at these. 

    ASTM Standards

    The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is a producer of international voluntary consensus standards.

    In a nutshell

    It assesses whether your boots are suitable for use in hazardous workplaces.

    While ASTM is the organization, code 2413-05 is for workplace protection against numerous hazards.

    A pair of boots is deemed a safe working boot if the following conditions are met, according to ASTM 2413-05:

    • Toe impact protection. 
    • Toe compression resistance. 
    • Features of conductivity.
    • Metatarsal protection.
    • Electric shock protection.
    • SD (static dissipative) qualities.
    • Puncture resistant soles. 
    • Resistance from chainsaw cuts.
    • Dielectric insulation.

    If a pair of boots are ASTM 2413-05 certified, it is safe to assume they are safety work boots.

    But wait, there’s more!

    OHSA has stepped in and cooperated with ASTM to develop safety features for any work boot to be classified as PPE.

    OSHA & ASTM F2413 Standards 

    OSHA and ASTM standards requirements are:

    • Special safety toe.
    • Leather upper.
    • Anti-slip soles.
    • Oil resistance.
    • Impact resistance rating of 75.
    • Compression resistance rating of 75.

    If your work boots match the requirements above, they are considered PPE.

    Important to note

    ASTM-2413 has replaced the ANSI Z41 requirements for safety work footwear.

    ANSI Standards

    Safety work boots must also meet ANSI standards, which include:

    • Toe guards: A barrier made of hard plastic, metal, or steel protects the toes.
    • Metatarsal guards: This protective element made of aluminum, steel, or fiber lessens the compressive impact on the foot’s instep.
    • High shafts protect the bottom part of the leg from welding sparks, rust, and scrapes. In an emergency, safety snaps allow you to remove the leg rapidly.
    • Solid insoles that are resistant to puncture.
    • Midsoles made of metallic or hard plastic to protect the foot from punctures.
    • Outer soles with high traction to prevent slips and falls.
    • Waterproof: To prevent corrosion, you’ll need liquid-proof boots if you work in a moist area.

    Who Needs to Wear Work Boots?

    You need to wear work boots if you work in an environment where extreme risks are present.  

    Work boots will defend you against electric shock, heat, and foot compression. 

    You need to wear work boots if you’re a:

    • Security officer.
    • Contractor.
    • Delivery agent.
    • Staff members working other jobs.

    Let’s unpack these.

    Security Officers

    Security officers need protective footwear, whether chasing after a burglar on a slick sidewalk or patrolling a dangerous neighborhood.


    Contractors and construction workers work in hazardous situations with sharp and falling objects. 

    Steel toes safety work boots are required in such situations.

    Delivery Agents

    Delivery agents who carry big packages daily never know when one will fall and crush your toe. 

    All of these threats are mitigated by safety work boots.

    Other Jobs That Require Safety Work Boots

    Other jobs that require safety work boots are: 

    • Plumbers.
    • Electricians.
    • Home interior designers.
    • Loggers.
    • Lumberjacks.
    • Landscapers.
    • Machine assembly station workers.

    13 Types of Work Boots & What They Can Protect You From

    13 types of work boots and what they protect you from include: 

    • Safety toe protection.
    • Ankle-high boots.
    • Electric hazard boots.
    • PVC boots.
    • Wellington boots.
    • Safety trainers.
    • Dielectric boots.
    • Thermal insulated boots.
    • Waterproof boots.
    • Chemical-resistant boots.
    • Puncture-resistant boots.
    • Slip-resistant boots.
    • Static dissipative boots.

    Let’s examine these in more detail.

    Safety Toe Protection

    Safety toe protection defends you against heavy falling or rolling objects from crushing your feet and toes. 

    These are the greatest work boots for standing all day on concrete floors. 

    Ankle-High Boot

    Ankle-high boots defend you from sprains and chronic ankle instability because they provide ankle support. 

    Electric Hazard Boots

    Electrical hazard boots are electrical insulators that restrict or reduce the flow of electrical current from the foot to the ground. 

    Stepping on a live conductor can cause electric shock if you don’t wear EH-rated boots.

    Buy a boot with electrical hazard protection to avoid becoming one of the statistics on electrocution.

    PVC Boots 

    PVC boots shield you from the burns caused by damp concrete.

    Substantial damages ordinary footwear and causes skin irritation. 

    Wellington Boots

    Wellington boots protect you from water getting into your boot if you’re working in a wet, muddy environment. 

    The rubber sole provides adequate traction and prevents water from entering the shoe. 

    Safety Trainers

    Safety trainers, a softer, more flexible safety footwear, have been created in recent years.

    These have a protective toe cap and anti-slip soles. 

    While their resistance to sole penetration is typically weaker than that of a safety boot, they can be used for various construction jobs as long as the working environment is free of items that could pierce the wearer’s foot.

    Wait, there’s more

    Scaffolders and roofing workers, for example, may find safety trainers beneficial since the level of grip and flexibility of these trainers is vital as a safety component in helping to guarantee an appropriate foothold when working at heights.

    Dielectric Boots

    The soles of dielectric boots act as a barrier between you and open electrical sources of up to 600 volts. 

    These boots protect from the dangers of steeping on electrified conductors.

    These are often utilized when working on live electricity or in areas where the current might leap long distances, such as in wet circumstances. 

    They are also typically used when grounding equipment near electrical lines.

    Thermal Insulated Boots

    Thermally insulated shoes are designed to withstand weather extremes.

    They insulate against hot and cold temperatures and are designed for use in harsh outdoor conditions.

    Consider purchasing insulated work boots if your feet freeze when working in the chilly winter. 

    Waterproof Boots

    Waterproof boots are designed to keep your feet dry and comfy in damp weather.

    Chemical-Resistant Boots

    Chemical-resistant boots are made from various materials to defend against chemical and biological threats.

    Slip-on overshoes or booties can also guard against chemicals or biological agents.

    Puncture-Resistant Boots

    Puncture-resistant boots are designed to protect the midsole of the foot from sharp items that could pierce or penetrate the boots’ sole.

    Slip-Resistant Boots

    Slip-resistant boots have a slip-resistant tread ideal for wet, oily, or greasy flooring.

    Shoe chains, cleats, or spikes that fit over existing boots are offered to prevent falls on ice, snow, or other slick surfaces. 

    Never wear ice or snow cleats when walking on hard surfaces other than snow or ice.

    Static Dissipative Boots

    By transferring the charge through the shoes to the ground, static dissipative boots reduce the development of electrical charge between a person in motion and the surfaces and environment around them.

    This feature is commonly used in producing electrical components, volatile liquids, explosives, and polymers.

    Foot & Leg Protection

    Foot and leg protection includes: 

    • Leggings.
    • Metatarsal protectors.
    • Toe guards.
    • Shin guards.

    Let’s delve into these. 


    Leggings shield the lower legs and feet from hot objects like molten metal or welding sparks.  

    Leggings can be instantly removed thanks to safety snaps.

    Metatarsal Protectors

    Metatarsal protectors cushion the instep and protect it from impact and compression. 

    These guards, made of aluminum, steel, fiber, or plastic, can be attached to the boots’ exterior.

    Toe Guards

    Toe guards are worn over the toes of conventional shoes to protect them from impact and compression.

    They are typically made of steel, aluminum, or plastic.

    Shin Guards

    Shin guards protect the lower legs and feet and can be used with toe guards for added protection.

    Dos & Don’ts of PPE Safety Footwear


    DO wear correctly fitting safety boots with comfort in mind. Put them on.

    If the shoe’s back is excessively large or too soft, it can slip, producing instability and pain.

    DO wear boots that do not alter your foot’s shape. 

    DO go for boots that have a firm heel grip. 

    DO wear boots that allow you to move your toes freely. Boots that are too thin or too shallow cause pain and tiredness. 

    DO wear boots with arch support.

    Flattening of the foot and increasing discomfort result from a lack of arch support. 

    DO maintain your boot soles and keep them clean and free of oil, grease, and other impurities that can cause slips and falls. 

    DO tightly tighten the lace instep of your footwear.

    The foot is kept from slipping inside the shoes.

    If you have soreness over the bones at the top of your foot, employ cushioning under the shoe tongue. 

    DO wear boots with shock-absorbing cushioned insoles when working on metal or cement floors.

    DO choose boots based on the hazards at your workplace.

    Choose authorized safety footwear with the appropriate hazard ratings if required. 


    DON’T wear heels higher than 5 cm (2 inches). 

    DON’T wear flat boots; wearing flimsy shoes or sandals to work is not permitted. 

    DON’T wear work boots that have been damaged to the point where their protective features are compromised. 

    DON’T use wire and string to replace your laces. 

    DON’T leave damp work boots in wet or contaminated areas.

    Understand Work Boot Types, PPE & Potential Work Hazards 

    Understanding work boot types, PPE, and potential work hazards are critical to your workplace safety.

    Make sure you undertake the following safety checks and procedures:

    • Conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace to acquire a basic understanding of the hazards and where they are found.
    • Choose proper safety work boots that are suitable for a variety of situations.
    • Familiarize yourself with the instructions required to use and care for your work boots correctly.
    • Make sure that you address any workplace dangers or PPE needs.

    Who Needs to Pay for the PPE?

    Employers need to pay for PPE, even though both employers and employees are responsible for what they must do to keep everyone safe.

    OSHA issued a rule in 2008 requiring all employers to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE).

    The standard clarified who was responsible for paying for PPE equipment.

    Even if the individual possesses their PPE, the employer is required by OSHA to furnish one.

    Employers must instruct their employees on the need to wear adequate safety equipment.

    Employees, on the other hand, must always wear PPE.

    A worker must clean, maintain, and understand how to use PPE. 

    Employers must pay for PPE equipment such as: 

    • Work boots with steel toes and rubber soles.
    • Welding PPE.
    • Hearing protection gear.
    • Helmets
    • Fire fighting equipment.
    • Non-prescription goggles for eye protection.

    Storage & Care

    Proper storage and care of your work boots are key to ensuring your safety and the integrity of your work boots.

    Be sure to use the below maintenance tips:

    • All work boots must be inspected regularly for cuts, holes, tears, cracks, worn soles, and other problems that could jeopardize their protective qualities.
    • Work boots required for particular risks, such as electrical, hazardous chemicals, or chemical resistance, should be inspected by the user before each usage.
    • Follow the manufacturer’s inspection, care, and storage instructions.
    • Work boots that are damaged or defective must be removed from work and disposed of.

    Common Questions

    What’s the Use of Boots in PPE?

    Do Steel Toe Boots Count as PPE?

    If You’re Self-Employed, Can You Write Work Boots off as a Business Expense?

    In Conclusion

    Work boots are equally as important as gloves, helmets, and goggles. PPE equipment keeps you safe from injuries and workplace risks.

    While OSHO enforces quality requirements, the tax authority grants you discounts on work boots. So, you need PPE work boots for your business to comply with the law, but more importantly, to ensure your safety and avoid injury!

    Even a minor injury caused by striking your toe against anything hard can keep you out of work for several days or weeks. That means no money will come in. And we’re certain you don’t want that!

    Therefore, it is best to choose work boots that are considered PPE. The safety capability of your work boots is determined by their features and the sort of work for which it is used. Choose a pair of work boots that matches your job and feet.

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    James Blake

    Written by
    James Blake
    Work Safety Expert

    James has made it his mission to find the top boots on the market.

    He’s passionate about matching the right boot to the right application because different boots are a perfect fit for different uses.