A.H. Harris Blog

Understanding ASTM Symbols & Labels Can Keep Your Feet Safe

by Richard Kallis

The demands that construction jobs put on workers' feet make it essential to have the right pair of boots. While many things need to be taken into consideration when purchasing work boots, none are more important than safety. Learn about labels and symbols to look out for when picking the right work boots in this guest blog post with information from aboutboot.com

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to ensure that their employees have the proper foot protection. For employers and workers to be confident that their boots meet the safety standards of a job, they should familiarize themselves with the American Society for Testing and Materials' (ASTM) coding system. ASTM standard codes tell the buyer the minimum safety requirements on every pair of protective footwear.

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Identifying Hazards to the Feet

Work-related foot injuries are too common. In an article written for Occupational Health and Safety Magazine, Fred Elliott cites numbers compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2014 indicating that 52,070 American workers lost time at work because of a foot injury. While most foot injuries are impact injuries caused by falling, jumping, or dropping heavy objects, there are many other hazards to the feet, such as punctures and electrical conductivity, which can be present on a job site. Because of these dangers, Elliott says it's imperative for employers to identify all safety risks to the feet before starting a job.

Finding and Decoding ASTM labels

ASTM F2413-11 designates the minimum performance requirements for protective footwear. Many people are unfamiliar with ASTM symbols and labels on boots. Fortunately, Richard, an experienced construction worker and boot blogger, provides an excellent infographic that shows exactly how to decode ASTM labeling on your work boots.

The first thing you should look for are the symbols on the outside of the boot:

  • Green triangles indicate that boots are suitable for heavy industries with Class 1 toe caps and Grade 1 puncture resistance.
  • Boots with yellow triangles are suitable for lighter industries with Class 2 toe caps and Grade 2 puncture resistance.
  • Red squares with a black C and grounding symbol warn that the boots are electrically conductive.
  • A white square with a fir tree indicates that the boots protect against chainsaws cuts.
  • Boots with a white square and omega symbol protect from electrical conductivity.
  • A yellow square with the letters SD means the boots dissipate static discharge.
  • A gray square with an R indicates the boots have Grade 2 toe caps without puncture protection.
  • A blue square means the boots have Grade 1 toe caps without puncture protection.

In addition to the symbols on the outside, protective footwear is required to have labels on the inside of one of the boots' tongue. Here are the labels you should look for:

  • I - Impact resistance
  • C - Compression resistance
  • MT - Metatarsal resistance
  • CD - Conductive properties
  • EH - Electrical hazard protection
  • SD - Static dissipation
  • PR - Puncture resistance
  • CS - Chainsaw resistant
  • DI - Dielectric Insulation

If you are uncertain which safety specifications you boots meet we highly recommend you check out Richard's infographic. And don't step foot on your next job site unless that foot is properly protected with the right kind of boot.Safety shoes symbols and their meanings.png

Interested in guest blogging for Harris? Contact us! We're always interested in construction industry related articles by experts in the field.

Categories: Safety, Construction, Boots

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