Know your basics: EHB VS. ESD.  Brown and gray work shoes shown.

What’s the Difference Between EH vs ESD Work Boots?

Electrical Hazard Protection

The actual design & construction of the boot itself can help reduce the risk of electrocution as well as static electrical shock. There are three distinct forms of electrical protection in footwear. EH (Electrical Hazard), SD (Static Dissipative) and CD (Conductive). Each of these provide essential protection for the wearer and knowing the difference is extremely important, in some cases, life and death important.

Static Dissipative (SD): If you have ever walked across a carpet floor and then shocked someone with your finger, you are familiar with the concept of static electricity. In some working environments, static shocks can be an issue. Static Dissipative footwear reduces the wearer’s likelihood of experiencing a static electrical shock when making contact with something metal or another person. This type of footwear is typically required in areas where the manufacturing process creates a build-up of static electricity, such the production and handling of computer components.

Footwear certified as SD helps control static electricity buildup on the body. SD shoes have a special insole designed to direct the flow of static electricity, sending it from the insole through the outsole and into to the ground. This technology significantly reduces the potential risk to the wearer against the static electrical shock. Because of this, the original insole must only be replaced with an insole designed for SD footwear.

Electrical Hazard (EH): On the other hand, to reduce the risk of electrocution, a boot labeled EH for Electrical Hazard would be what you’re looking for. We want to be clear that EH and SD footwear essentially have opposite functions.

EH work boots are designed for those exposed to live wires and high voltage electrical currents on the job. For these workers EH boots are an essential and critical piece of gear. The design and construction of EH footwear, when worn in conjunction of with other forms of PPE, significantly reduces the flow of electricity through the footwear to the ground, thus reducing the possibility of electrocution.

According to ASTM safety standards, boots labeled for electrical hazard (EH) must be independently lab tested and certified to withstand 18,000 volts at 60 Hz for one minute with no current flow or leakage in excess of 1.0 mA.

Remember to always inspect your boots before wearing for any visible damage such as punctures, tears, snags and cracking along with excessive wear on the outsole, as any of these factors may reduce or eliminate the safety benefits of these types of safety footwear.

You can check the protective qualities of your boots by looking for a label that’s usually stitched in or stamped on the boot within a rectangular border. You will see a specific 4 line format that identifies the type of footwear and the hazards for which it protects you from.

Line 1 Identifies the ASTM standard for which the footwear complies along with specific year of issuance.

Line 2 identifies the appropriate gender and the impact and compression rating of the category.

Lines 3 & 4 are used to reference additional sections within this safety standard.

Now that you know what to look for, you’ll be all set to find your next pair of safety boots.