A Guide To Glove Safety: EN 374

Wednesday, 15 July 2015  |  Admin

It’s all getting a bit mathematical over here at Safety Gloves - EN 374-2 or EN 374-4? No, we’re not branching out into algebra but you might want to bear these numbers in mind because they’re how the European Standard denote the safety and suitability of your gloves.

EN374-2: Resistance to Water Penetration

If your gloves meet this standard they will proudly display the following symbol:

In other words, water proof gloves or, to give them the credit they’re due, gloves that are micro-organism resistant and act as an effective barrier against micro-organisms and/or the liquids they live in. The levels given to EN374-2 gloves and results range from 1-3 with Level 1 being the lowest level of protection and Level 3 being the highest.

Level 1 EN374-2 gloves will be waterproof, while Level 2 and Level 3 EN374-2 gloves have additional micro-organism resistance as well.

EN374-3: Resistance to Permeation by Chemicals

Things are going up a level, EN374-3 gloves are able to protect you from chemicals. Gloves that reach this standard will be awarded the following symbol:

To earn this symbol, gloves must attain Level 2 in the above EN374-2 test which subjects them to water, as well as achieve the same level when subjected to any three of the following possible test chemicals:

  • Methanol
  • Acetone
  • Acetonitrile
  • Dichloromethane 
  • Carbon Disulphide
  • Toluene
  • Diethylamine
  • Tetrahydrofuran
  • Ethyl Acetate
  • Heptane
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • Sulphuric Acid (96%)

This chemical test uses serious science to test the safety of your gloves. A patch is taken from the palm of the glove and placed into a machine that allows chemicals to rest on the outside part of the glove. Air or water is then passed through the glove to see which, if any, chemicals have managed to permeate the material, and therefore pose a risk to your hands. Based on the time amassed, the gloves are awarded a Performance Level, the meaning of which is deciphered on the table below.

Performance Level Time Passed Before Chemical Breakthrough (Minutes)
Level 1 >10 minutes
Level 2 >30 minutes
Level 3 >60 minutes
Level 4 >120 minutes
Level 5 >240 minutes

On gloves that do not achieve EN374-3 grading but do pass the leak test of EN374-2, the following symbol might be used:


What Does it all Mean?

Now you know a little more about EN 374, you might be wandering: what's the point? EN standards are designed to ensure that you are getting a glove that can properly back up its claims. It's no use buying a glove that you think can withstand sulphuric acid only to find out (when push comes to shove) that it doesn't actually work — that's a recipe for a terrible accident. When you purchase a pair of gloves that have been certified to EN 374, you know that they have been put through their paces and have not been found wanting.

The other main attraction of EN standards is that they let you accurately compare gloves to one and other. If there are two gloves and both say that they are chemically resistant, how do you know which one will give the better protection? With EN 374 you have a quantifiable marker that allows you to accurately compare gloves to find the pair that are right for you.

At Safety Gloves, we have a number of gloves that are EN 374 accredited in our Chemical Resistant Gloves category.