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What is the difference between safety shoes and work sneakers?

Sneaker style safety or running like work shoes?

Safety shoes and work sneakers are both types of safety footwear designed to provide protection for workers in various industries such as warehousing, logistics and a huge variety of trades, but they differ in their construction, features, and the level of protection they offer.

Here are the key differences between safety shoes and work sneakers:

  1. Safety Features:

    • Safety Shoes: Safety shoes are specifically designed to meet safety standards and offer a higher level of protection. They often feature steel or composite toe caps that protect the toes from impact and compression hazards. Some safety shoes also have puncture-resistant soles to guard against sharp objects, and they provide protection against electrical hazards and chemical exposure in certain models.

    • Work Sneakers: Work sneakers, while still designed for workplace environments, may not always have the same level of safety features as safety shoes. All ELTEN work sneakers are compliant with the international relevant ISO safety standards. They may have non-metallic or soft toe caps, which provide some protection but not as much as the steel or composite toe caps found in safety shoes. Work sneakers may not always be suitable for environments with high risks of falling objects, heavy machinery, or sharp materials.

  2. Style and Comfort:

    • Safety Shoes: Safety shoes often prioritize safety features over style and comfort. They are bulkier and may feel less comfortable for extended periods of wear. However, modern safety shoes come in various styles and designs, improving their overall comfort and appearance.

    • Work Sneakers: Work sneakers are designed with comfort and style in mind, making them more appealing to workers who require protection but also want a shoe that feels comfortable for all-day wear. They are often lightweight and have a sporty or casual look.

  3. Use Cases:

    • Safety Shoes: Safety shoes are typically recommended for industries where workers face higher risks of foot injuries, such as construction, manufacturing, welding, and heavy machinery operations.

    • Work Sneakers: Work sneakers are suitable for less hazardous work environments, such as retail, light manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics, where the primary concern is comfort and protection from moderate workplace hazards.

  4. Regulations and Standards:

    • Safety Shoes: Safety shoes are often required to meet specific safety standards set by regulatory agencies, depending on the industry and workplace hazards. These standards - such as AS/NZS or ISO standards - ensure that the footwear provides adequate protection against common workplace risks.

    • Work Sneakers: Work sneakers may not always meet the same stringent safety standards as safety shoes. However, they still provide protection to some extent and can be appropriate for workplaces with lower safety requirements. Slip-resistance or anti-slip features are key requirement. 

In summary, safety shoes such as the REACTION, MILOW, MADDOX and SENEX BOA are designed with a primary focus on safety and offer a higher level of protection against various workplace hazards, while work sneakers prioritize comfort and style, providing some level of protection for less hazardous work environments.

The choice between safety shoes and work sneakers depends on the specific needs and safety requirements of the job and the comfort preferences of the wearer. All ELTEN safety shoes and work sneakers however abide by the same safety standards. 

Feel free to contact us on 03 6161 3933 or or visit our store on for any further queries you have around lightweight safety shoes or steel cap runners on our huge range of ELTEN work boots and safety shoes on 

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