Chainsaw Safety Gloves - Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Perfect Pair

Thursday, 24 September 2015

It almost goes without saying that if you are using a machine designed to make light work of chopping down trees, you do not want to get your hands in the way if you can avoid it. Chainsaws are readily available for anyone and everyone to buy and can help take the effort out of cutting wood and felling trees – but the risks are plain to see. We will not go into the gory details, but here at Safety Gloves we are firm believers that it is best not to cut corners with your chainsaw protection. We have an extensive range of chainsaw gloves that are suitable for budding amateurs and professional tree surgeons alike but choosing the right pair can seem confusing. With that in mind, this article aims to give you all the necessary technical know-how to make an informed decision as to which gloves are best for you - so where to start?

The Basics

Chainsaw gloves need to be strong and durable without any loss of dexterity. This is what we recommend to look for in a chainsaw glove:

  • Leather – naturally tear-resistant and suitable for heavy-duty work, more leather means more protection when it comes to chainsaw and forestry gloves. Leather also maintains a high level of grip in wet conditions to reduce the chance of accidents.
  • Chainsaw lining – this often features in the left hand or sometimes in both and is designed to slow or stop the chainsaw by tangling within the chain should it come in to contact.
  • Kevlar – normally used as stitching to reinforce joints and seams, Kevlar has more than twice the tensile strength of nylon or polyester with less elasticity.
  • Hydrophobic – meaning scared of water. Many chainsaw gloves are now treated hydrophobically to ensure they repel water and oil.

Now for the more technical parts...

EN Standards – What and Why?

Here at Safety Gloves we are big on EN standards and you will see them mentioned a lot throughout our site.
Essentially, EN standards are a type of quality assurance given by the European Union. To gain an EN rating an item must be rigorously tested and ratified by one of three European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs): CEN, CENELEC or ETSI. These three bodies are deemed to have the required technical knowledge and impartiality to test products accurately, measuring anything from safety gloves to fertilizers.

EN ratings are important as they offer a clear comparison between similar products with a guarantee that they have all been independently tested to the same standards.

When picking a pair of chainsaw safety gloves there are three main EN standards to bear in mind: EN 381-7, EN 388 and EN 420.

EN 381-7 

This is by far the most important EN standard applicable to chainsaw gloves because it is designed solely to test suitability for use with chainsaws. EN 381 covers chainsaw clothing as a whole, with -7 referring to gloves.  Each glove is tested by being put in contact with a moving chainsaw at different speeds until it cuts, which then gains the glove a classification. The different classifications are shown below:

Test Class Rating (metres per second)
Class 1 

16 m/s chain speed

Class 2  20 m/s chain speed
Class 3 24 m/s chain speed
Class 4 28 m/s chain speed

The higher the class, the better the protection offered. Chainsaw protection gloves must carry the EN 381-7 standard mark to show that they are EU approved and have undergone the necessary tests. 
*Please note these tests are performed in a controlled environment by industry experts, do not attempt to recreate them at home.*

EN 388

Another standard to look out for is EN 388. These tests assess a gloves’ physical resistance to common mechanical hazards, namely abrasion resistance, cut resistance, puncture resistance and tear resistance.  Chainsaw gloves tend to be used in harsh environments so it is crucial that they are durable enough to withstand general wear and tear – an EN 388 rating provides this peace of mind.  

Abrasion Resistance

Resistance to abrasion is an key facet of chainsaw gloves. Sawdust and chippings that come into contact with the gloves can cause them to deteriorate over time so it is important for the gloves to be able to withstand the prolonged friction. Abrasion resistance is measured on a scale of 1 to 4 by taking a sample glove and seeing how many cycles (abrasion by sandpaper under a stipulated pressure) is required to abrade the glove.

Cut Resistance 

Cut resistance allows you to handle sharp objects without risking injury to your hands. EN 388 measures cut resistance on a scale between 1 and 5 by determining how many continuous cycles are needed to cut through the exterior of the sample glove.

Tear Resistance

Resistance to tearing is another important factor for chainsaw gloves as chainsaws do not cut like a knife but rather rip and tear when in contact with material. Tear resistance is measured on a scale between 1 and 4 by finding the amount of force that is necessary (in Newton’s) to tear the glove. 

Puncture Resistance

To measure puncture resistance, the amount of force required to penetrate the glove with a standard sized point is measured. Please be aware that the highest level of puncture resistance may not protect against very sharp points such as glass or needles — please check the individual product pages for more information.

The table below shows a summary of the tests and possible scores within the EN-388 standards:

Test Performance Level
  1 2 3 4 5
Abrasion Resistance (Cycles) 100 500 2000 8000 N/A
Blade Cut Resistance (Factor) 1.2 2.5 5 10 20
Tear Resistance (Newton’s) 10 25 50 75 N/A
Puncture Resistance (Newton’s) 20 60 100

150

N/A

EN 420

The final EN standard to bear in mind is EN 420. This covers basic requirements in terms of safety and construction, for example:

  • The gloves themselves should not impose a risk or cause injury
  • The pH of the gloves should be as close as possible to neutral
  • Where the gloves are leather, the pH should be between 3.5 and 9.5
  • Specifically states any substances used that may cause allergies

EN 420 also ensures the gloves are also sized according to an agreed European common hand size, so that there are no discrepancies occurring between different brands or different styles. The sizing is explained in the description of each product.

Here are a few examples of our excellent chainsaw gloves:

Arborsafe Chainsaw Gloves

  • Price is per pair
  • Cut protection on left-hand
  • Reinforced stitiching
  • No loss of dexterity
Available now

SIP Protection Hand and Arm Chainsaw Sleeves 1SXA

  • Price is per pair
  • 360 degree protection for the forearms and elbows
  • Non-slip elastic cuffs with thumb loops for security
  • Chainsaw protection on the tops of the hands
Available now

SIP Protection Long Chainsaw Gloves 2SA4

  • Price is per pair
  • Longer glove to protect lower forearm
  • Anti-cut protection in both hands
  • Ideal for tree surgery
Available now