5 Myths About Steel Toe Boots
Some people believe some weird things about steel toe boots. Like any myth, some are based on half-truths and some are just outright wrong.
What's definitely true is you should think hard about whether you need steel toe boots. It's one thing if they're required by your employer, but think carefully about if you just think you need them or if you really need them. Most people know if they really do.
So if you're going to buy steel toe boots, or if you're having a pair built and you don't know what you're going to be in for, let's dispel some of the myths about steel toed boots.
Steel Toed Boots Will Cut Your Toes Off
This myth has faded a bit over time; a lot fewer people have been repeating the "steel toe amputation" bit, but it occasionally comes up from time to time.
The idea is that if something sufficiently heavy lands on the toe of your boot, the steel toe cap will curl backward until it cuts the toes off your foot. Some people take the next step and say that's a feature; it's easier, the story goes, to reattach severed toes than to heal a crushed foot.
For one, that's not actually possible. Mythbusters only found one instance of a person who had a toe cut off when wearing steel toe boots, and tested steel toe boots to see if they could get it to happen, which they couldn't.
If something heavy enough actually fell on your feet while you're wearing steel toed boots, the worst thing that could happen would be that your foot would be crushed. Small consolation to be sure! However, amputation just isn't possible.
You Can't Wear Steel Toe Boots On Airplanes
Airline rules can occasionally get a little weird, but the occasional person can get the impression that you can't wear steel toed boots through airport security.
Can you wear steel toe boots on airplanes?
According to the Transportation Security Administration steel toe boots are perfectly fine. All you'd have to do is explain to security that you're wearing steel toe boots.
If you feel like avoiding the hassle, you can put your boots in your carry-on or in a checked bag and not have to worry about it. That said, you shouldn't have any problems at all.
Are Steel Toe Boots Required By OSHA?
While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does have a lot of rules and regulations, steel toe boots aren't specifically required per se.
Per OSHA themselves, there's no OSHA regulation that specifically states that steel toed boots are required for any specific occupation.
OSHA does, though, require that protective footwear be worn if people are "working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole" and in case of electrical hazard.
In other words, OSHA doesn't require anyone to wear steel toe boots, but does require that protective footwear be worn if there's a danger of injury. In a way that kind of means they are, but - again - it also means that steel toed boots, specifically, are not.
You Can Stretch Steel Toe Boots
Here we have a half-truth. You can stretch the leather of steel-toe boots, but you can't stretch the toe itself...or at least, not without a lot of effort!
Stretching boots and shoes can be done, of course, and a lot of cobblers/shoe repair shops offer it as a service. However, it's also the case that if you have to stretch a pair of work boots or shoes or what have you...you probably didn't get a pair that fit you to begin with.
If you stretch steel toe boots, you might get a little more room behind the toe cap, but that's going to be about it.
Steel Toe Boots Aren't Comfortable
Comfort is the Achilles Heel of steel toe boots. The extra material takes away a little room in the toe box. That means a little less room for your toes to move, and less comfort.
That alone has led a lot of people to get rid of boots before they're even close to being worn out.
As a result, we urge you to consider whether you really want steel toe inserts. It's one thing if you're required to, and there are certainly some jobs where it's a really good idea to have them. But chances are you already know if you need a safety toe or not. If you do need a safety toe, we recommend getting made to order boots to get proper fit and comfort.
If, that is, you're already wearing a comfortable boot to begin with. Cheap work boots are offered with steel toes, too, so adding a steel toe to an already less than perfectly comfortable boot is only going to make matters worse.
With that said, a steel toe cap that's in a boot that fits correctly and is comfortable to begin with is going to be a lot better in the long run.