What do the safety ratings really mean?
Hi Rosie River Family,
Have you ever wondered how we know our steel toed boots are actually protecting us? Most of us have seen the labels on the tongues of the boots that declare the "rating" of the boots, but what do they mean?
Most labels have three lines, each line provides information about what type of testing the boot has undergone. The first line specifies the test methods used to measure the "safety" of the boots. The second line identifies the impact, compression and metatarsal ratings. The final line lists additional hazard protection ratings, including conductivity and electrical hazard protection.
But how are these tests conducted? To be honest when I first started wearing safety boots I imagined that the testing involved dropping an anvil on a pair of boots, cartoon style.
In fact, this isn't completely wrong.....but the tests actually look a little more like this:
Impact Resistance: This test rates the boot's ability to protect the foot from falling objects. It is basically a more formalized version of dropping an anvil on a shoe, except instead of an anvil it is a test rig that drops a weight on the toe cap area. Most often the boot is tested for either an impact rating of 50 or 75 pounds, with I/50 protecting the toes from 50 pounds of impact and I/75 from 75 pounds of impact.
Compression Resistance: This tests the toe cap's ability to protect against heavy rolling objects, and is conducted in a similar way as the impact test. The toe cap is compressed between two plates at a set speed until the desired compression force is reached. The clearance is then determined and used for the rating, with a C/50 rating meaning that the boot can withstand comprehensive loads up to 1,750 pounds and with a C/75 rating withstanding comprehensive loads up to 2,500 pounds.
Metatarsal Protection: The metatarsal test measures how well-protected the upper foot or metatarsal bones are. To test this a wax foot is placed in the shoe, and a weight is dropped in the metatarsal area. Afterwards the damage to the wax is evaluated.
Puncture Resistance: Nobody wants to hurt themselves by stepping on a nail in a construction zone. The puncture resistance is tested by using a sharp steel pin and forcing it with a given speed deep into the sole of the boot.
Only after this series of tests are the boots certified and considered appropriate for wearing in construction and manufacturing zones.