EN 420: The Standard In Glove Safety

Monday, 10 August 2015  |  Admin

Safety Gloves is all about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), we’re also all about high standards, so it’s good that our gloves meet high standards too, like that of EN 420 – Never heard of it? No problem, read on!

If you’ve been looking for gloves to take on chemicals, construction, machinery or high heat, you’ve probably come across EN 388, EN 407 and EN 374 (or feel free to click through to our demystifying blog posts now!) The allusive EN 420 tends to make fewer appearances - but why? Is this some unobtainable level of safety that many gloves fail to meet? Actually, no.

EN 420 is in fact it’s just the opposite - all safety gloves must first and foremost earn this standard. Generally gloves won’t list EN 420 among their accolades because it consists of fairly common-sense specifications. If gloves did not meet this basic benchmark of safety they would never have made it so far as your shopping basket in the first place. So don’t be alarmed if you don’t see EN 420 displayed on the pages of the product of your choice, as many of the requirements needed to make the grade are evident by the fact that they are being sold at all.

EN420 is displayed by the pictogram below, indicating that the user should consult the instructions which outline the build and applications of the glove:

EN 420 Specifications

In what is both the most obvious and the most important part of glove manufacture, EN 420 safety gloves have to be safe to wear. While it’s unlikely any of your clothes are harbouring malicious intentions, safety gloves must prove it and have their materials and construction tested to make sure they’re not going to be more of a hindrance or hazard than help when it comes to protecting your hard working hands.

The exact criteria of a glove’s “Innocuousness” are as follows:

  • Gloves must offer the greatest possible degree of protection 
  • If the glove features seams, they should not reduce the performance of the glove
  • pH levels should be between 3.5 and 9.5
  • Chromium (VI) Content should be below detection (< 3ppm)
  • Natural rubber gloves should be tested on extractable proteins to ensure they do not cause allergic reactions in the wearer
  • If cleaning instructions are provided, the level of performance must not be reduced even after the maximum number of washes

After these main tenets are met, Anti-static Gloves and gloves subject to Water Vapour may also have to meet the following requirements:

  • Anti-static gloves shall be placed through Electrostatic tests
  • Results of these tests shall be reported on the instructions for use
  • An electrostatic pictogram shall not be used
  • If required, gloves shall allow water vapour transmission (5mg/cm2)
  • If gloves exclude water vapour transmission, it should be at least 8mg/cm2 for 8 hours.

Dexterity may also be tested, which involves picking up a pin with a gloved hand three times, with the pin becoming smaller with each round of tests. Dexterity levels range from 1-5, with 5 being the most efficient. 

Standards at a Glance

The rest is more about making the gloves suitable for everyday life and ensuring that the design and upkeep of the glove are good enough to make using them easy. Glove designs have to display certain information on their fabric, which makes it easy to know with a look if they’re EN approved or not:

  • The name of manufacturer
  • Glove and size designation
  • CE mark
  • Appropriate pictograms  to display the EN Standards and levels of the glove
  • These markings should remain clear and legible throughout the life of the glove

Even the packaging of your gloves comes under close scrutiny, and must show: 

  • The name and address of the manufacturer or representative
  • Glove and size designation
  • CE mark
  • It’s intended application/ level of use e.g. ‘For minimal risks only’
  • If the glove only provides protection to a specific area of the hand, this must be stated e.g. ‘Palm protection only’
  • A reference to where further information can be obtained

The instructions included with your new gloves are also required to show:

  • The name and address of the manufacturer or representative
  • Glove designation
  • Size range available
  • CE mark
  • Care & storage instruction
  • Instructions and limitations of use
  • A list of substances used in the glove which are known to cause allergies
  • A list of all substances in the glove shall be made available upon request
  • Name and address of notified body that certified the product

The Basic Standard

Once all these requirements are met, the glove can progress to the hardier tests such as for chemical resistance or cut resistance, which makes EN 420’s seemingly simplistic or obvious choice of criteria also the most important. 

Visit Safety Gloves to see our EN Standard Approved Gloves.