Safety Shoes are historically any shoe which is built with a safety toe.  Originally, these were made of steel and called “Steel Toes”, but now, we have safety shoes made with Aluminum Alloy, Composite Material, and Carbon Fiber (new) safety toes.  These Safety Shoes were originally built to just protect toes and were tested to the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards, but then the safety shoe standards were moved to the ASTM (American Standards for Testing and Materials).   

Over the years, safety shoes have morphed into many different highly specialized shoes that are asked to do much more than protect workers’ toes.  There are Metatarsal Guards that protect the Metatarsal bones in the foot, Electrical Hazard to protect workers from Electrical Shock, Static Dissipating that reduce the build-up of electric static charge on workers, Conductive that reduce the static charge in explosive environments, Puncture Resistant that prevent punctures through the sole, Heat Resistant that protect feet from hot environments, and Slip-Resistant that reduce slipping hazards. 

Now I also have a similar term, “Safe Shoes” that I use to describe shoes built for specific safety needs that don’t have a safety toe.  Those include Slip-Resistant and Static Dissipating “soft toe” shoes.