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EN 388:2016 Explained

Thursday, 15 March 2018

We recently published a blog post about the changes to chemical resistance testing standards with the revision of EN 374:2003 to EN 374:2016. At the same time that these standards were changed, EN 388:2003 – the specific standards used to regulate the mechanical protection provided by safety gloves – was also updated. As with EN 374, the revised EN 388:2016 requires that gloves undergo more rigorous and more comprehensive testing to promote greater user safety. Here's a summary of the major changes to help you get to grips with the new standards:

Safety Gloves For Mechanical Risks

Certification Under EN 388:2003

Under EN388:2003, gloves were rated for their resistance to abrasion, cut, tear and puncture. The level of resistance provided against each of these hazards was indexed below the EN:388 symbol. The resistance ratings were listed from left to right in the order of abrasion; cut; tear; and puncture, with resistance represented by a rating from 1 (minimal protection) to 5 (the highest rating awarded). This is what the old marking looks like:

EN 388:2003 Example

A glove bearing this marking would have received resistance ratings of:

Mechanical Hazard Rating Received
Abrasion Level 4
Cut Level 4
Tear Level 4
Puncture Level 2

New Standards of EN 388:2016

With the revision to the standards of EN 388, more rigorous cut and abrasion testing is carried out, as well as impact testing (where applicable). Here's what you need to know about these changes:

Cut Resistance Testing

One of the major changes under EN 388:2016 is that gloves now receive ratings for their resistance to both straight and circular blade cut. This means that the EN 388:2016 marking carries two different cut ratings. The first rating is for circular cut, while the new rating (called ISO cut) refers to straight blade cut resistance.

In addition to testing cut resistance to both circular and straight blades, circular blade testing is now carried out for more cycles than previously, to determine the level of resistance when the blade has dulled. As a result, it is expected that gloves manufactured from materials that are prone to blunting the blade will be reclassified with a lower cut resistance rating under EN 388:2016.

Abrasion Resistance Testing

In addition to more comprehensive cut resistance testing, abrasion testing is now carried out using different test paper. As a result, gloves may receive a different score under EN 388:2016 to the score originally awarded under EN 388:2003.

Impact Protection Testing

Where applicable, a rating for impact protection is now included under EN 388:2016. This means that if a glove claims impact resistant properties, it will be tested to ensure the validity of this claim.

New Markings of EN 388:2016

The new order of performance rating (from left to right) is abrasion; circular blade cut; tear; puncture; and straight blade cut (EN ISO cut). The new rating received for cut resistance is classified using the letters A to F, with "F" being the highest level, and "A" being the lowest. If a glove provides protection against impact, this will be denoted with a sixth symbol – a "P" – underneath the EN 388:2016 marking. Here's an example of the EN 388:2016 marking:

EN 388:2016 Example

This glove would be classified as:

Mechanical Hazard Rating Received
Abrasion Level 3
Cut Level 1
Tear Level 3
Puncture Level 1
EN ISO Cut A

Final Thoughts

While this all seems a bit confusing and overwhelming – particularly when you see a conformity statement with both the EN 388:2003 and EN 388:2016 markings – this breakdown has hopefully helped you to understand the new standards a bit better. If you have any questions, or anything to add, tell us in the comments below, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.