Understanding ASTM Footwear Standards

The right footwear for the job

Choosing the correct footwear for the job is extremely important in order to provide the appropriate protection. So, how does a worker or employer select such protective footwear?

Assessing the Environment

First, you should assess the work environment to determine any possible foot hazards and how you can protect against them. This assessment is critical in a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) program because it helps you choose the right footwear for each job and hazard.

1. Identifying Common Workplace Hazards

Workplaces abound with potential foot hazards. From sharp objects left carelessly on the floor to unexpected spills creating slippery conditions, each hazard demands specific protective measures. Typical hazards include sharp tools, falling objects, and wet surfaces. Recognizing these hazards is the first step in safeguarding against them.

2. Industry-Specific Hazard Considerations

Different industries present unique challenges. For instance, construction workers face risks from heavy machinery and construction debris, while agricultural workers might encounter uneven terrain and exposure to agricultural chemicals. Understanding these industry-specific hazards is key to choosing the appropriate footwear.

3. Evaluating Environmental Conditions

The work environment's temperature, moisture levels, and exposure to chemicals play a significant role in foot safety. Footwear selection should consider factors like insulation for extreme temperatures, water resistance for wet conditions, and chemical resistance for environments with potential chemical exposures.

4. Assessing Electrical Hazards

In industries with electrical risks, assessing for electrical hazards is vital. Footwear with electrical hazard (EH) ratings can provide necessary protection against electrical shocks, a common risk in certain workplaces.

5. Understanding Slip, Trip, and Fall Risks

Slips, trips, and falls can happen in any workplace and are often due to inadequate footwear. The choice of footwear with the right tread or grip can significantly reduce these incidents, especially in environments with slick or uneven surfaces.

6. Long-Term Health Considerations

The right footwear can prevent long-term health issues like foot, knee, and back pain, particularly important in roles that involve standing or walking on hard surfaces for extended periods. Ergonomically designed footwear can offer much-needed support and cushioning.

7. Footwear Fit and Comfort Assessment

The fit and comfort of protective footwear are crucial. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to foot injuries and discomfort. Guidance on measuring foot size accurately and the importance of trying on footwear can help ensure the right fit.

8. Regular Review and Update of PPE Program

Finally, it's important to regularly review and update the PPE program. This ensures that the protective footwear remains effective against new hazards or changes in the workplace and incorporates advancements in protective footwear technology.

Gemplers Brown Bear Chore Boots with Composite Toe

ASTM F2413-05 M I/75 C/75 Standard

The protective footwear you choose must comply with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F2413-05, formerly the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) Z41-1999. This standard covers minimum requirements for the design, performance, testing and classification of protective footwear. Footwear certified as meeting ASTM F2413-05 must first meet the requirements of Section 5.1 "Impact Resistant Footwear" and Section 5.2 "Compression Resistant Footwear". Then the requirements of additional sections such as metatarsal protection, conductive protection, electric shock protection, static dissipative protection and protection against punctures can be met.

Protective footwear can meet all of the requirements of the ASTM standard or specific elements of it, as long as it first meets the requirements for impact and compression resistance. All footwear manufactured to the ASTM specification must be marked with the specific portion of the standard with which it complies. One shoe of each pair must be clearly and legibly marked (stitched in, stamped on, pressure-sensitive label, etc.) on either the surface of the tongue, gusset, shaft, or quarter lining.

The letters F2413 reference the performance requirement for foot protection. The additional digits following the standard designation indicate the year of the standard to which the protective footwear complies, for example:

  • 05 refers to 2005.
  • M = Footwear designed for a male
  • F = Footwear designed for a female
  • I/75 = Impact rating of 75 (foot pounds)
  • C/75 = Compression rating of 75 (2500 lbs. of pressure)

As of March 2005, the ASTM F2413 standard superseded the ANSI Z41 standard. Manufacturers and distributors will implement a "running change" to their inventory from the ANSI Z41 labeled footwear. Because there is no change in the protocol, the ASTM F2413 standard does not require that the change from ANSI to ASTM labeled footwear occur in a specific time period.

The Significance of Composite Toe Boots

When discussing protective footwear, an essential topic is composite toe boots. A composite toe boot features a toe cap made of a composite material, offering several advantages over traditional steel toe boots. These boots meet the same ASTM F2413 standards and are designed to protect your toes from impact and compression risks in the workplace​

Key Advantages of Composite Toe Boots

  • Lighter Weight: These boots are significantly lighter than steel or alloy toe caps, reducing fatigue and the risk of muscle strain​​.
  • Non-Conductive to Electricity: An essential safety feature for those working in environments where electrical hazards are present​​.
  • Temperature Insensitivity: They do not conduct temperature extremes, making them comfortable in various weather conditions​​.
  • Metal Detector Friendly: Ideal for workplaces with metal detectors, as they won't trigger alarms​​.

Materials in Composite Toe Caps

Composite toe caps can be made from materials like plastic, Kevlar, carbon fiber, and fiberglass, each offering unique benefits. For instance, Kevlar is incredibly strong and resistant to temperature, while carbon fiber is known for being light, strong, and less bulky​​​​.

See a list of all composite toe boots and footwear offered by Gemplers here.


What does the impact rating mean?

Safety toe boots are tested to meet one of two units of measurement for impact rating; 50 or 75 foot pounds. This test is performed by dropping a weight from a predetermined height at a designated speed. Thus, I/50 rated footwear will protect the toes from an impact of up to 50 foot pounds and I/75 rated footwear will protect the toes from an impact of up to 75 foot pounds.

What does the compression rating mean?

Safety toe boots are tested to meet one of two units of measurement for compression rating; 50 = 1,750 pounds and 75 = 2,500 pounds. This test is performed by applying a load up to the designated number of pounds before the toe cap begins to crush or crack. Thus, C/50 rated footwear will protect the toes from compressive loads up to 1,750 pounds and C/75 rated footwear will protect the toes from compressive loads up to 2,500 pounds.

Are add-on protective devices sufficient?

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.

What is a composite toe?

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.

Which is better, a steel toe or a composite toe?

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.

What type of work is a composite toe boot best suited for?

This is dependent on the logger you are using and the chemical and/or concentration of the chemical that the logger is exposed to. Generally, these loggers are intended for exposure to air, soil, and water. Many chemicals will have an adverse effect on the loggers and/or the sensors that the loggers utilize. Contact our product support team with questions regarding specific chemical contact with the loggers.


Selecting the right footwear is a critical decision for workplace safety. Understanding the ASTM F2413 standards and the benefits of different types of protective boots, like composite toe boots, is essential for making an informed choice. Whether you're an employer or an employee, ensuring the footwear meets the required safety standards is paramount.

For more information on ASTM F2413 compliant footwear, visit ASTM International's website and explore our range of protective boots at Gemplers.