A Guide To Glove Safety: EN 388

Wednesday, 15 July 2015  |  Admin

EN 388, EN 374, EN 407. Don’t worry, the website hasn’t crashed, but you might have spied some of these seemingly gibberish combinations on our Safety Gloves product descriptions. We’re not part of a secret society talking in code, these are in fact the codes used by the European Standard to test PPE gloves. It denotes if your gloves are fit for use and which industry they should be used for.

EN388: Protective Gloves Against Mechanical Risks

EN 388 refers to the suitability of the glove when faced with mechanical risks and is recognisable by the following symbol:


The test for safety for EN 388 coded gloves is simultaneously simple and complex. When the European Standard test your gloves, they really do test them as everyday wear would, except with a bit more science involved. 

Abrasion and Cutting Resistance

A test patch from the palm of the glove is placed in a frame which then enables a circular, counter-rotating blade to slice through the glove material. The number of blade cycles required to cut through the material is then compared to a standard reference material and a number awarded describe the material’s cut-resistance. A Cutting Index number is also given, this describes the amount of force needed for a stationary blade to pass through the test sample.

Tear and Puncture Resistance

In a case of mistaken identity, the glove material is also made into a pair of trousers, and these then torn apart at each leg in a test imaginatively named the “trouser tear test.” The force needed to destroy these glove-trousers decides on the tear resistance of the fabric.

Puncture resistance is measured by the amount of force required to break through the sample using a standard puncture needle, passing this test makes them suitably resistant to potential mechanical punctures.

An EN 388 graded glove will not have been tested against hypodermic needles and should not be used in instances where they pose a risk.

And the Results are...

The table below describes exactly what you can expect from your EN388 coded gloves depending on their awarded level, the general rule being that the higher the result number, the higher the protection.

Gloves are not obligated to perform consistently high across all tests, be aware that gloves with high abrasion resistance will not necessarily have equally high resistance to tearing/puncture etc. To ensure your gloves have a high score across the board, look for their overall performance level rather than individual tear/ puncture/ abrasion scores.

Overall Performance Level Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Abrasion Cycles (endured from moving blade) 100 Cycles 500 Cycles 2000 Cycles 8000 Cycles n/a
Cutting Index (with moving blade) 1.2 Cuts 2.5 Cuts 5 Cuts 10 Cuts 20 Cuts
Tear Force (Newtons) 10 Newtons 25 Newtons 50 Newtons 75 Newtons n/a
Puncture Force (Newtons) 20 Newtons 60 Newtons 100 Newtons 150 Newtons n/a
ISO Cut Load (with stationary blade)       13 22

Learn More About Cut Resistance

What Does This All Mean?

You might be asking yourself: "Why should I care about the physical resistance of my gloves?" The answer is simple — EN 388 allows you to pick gloves that you know will perform without letting you down. The EN Standard sorts the men from the boys, the cream from the milk and the gloves that will protect you from the gloves that won't. A huge amount of the gloves that we sell at Safety Gloves have been assessed to EN Standards and this allows you to effectively assess the various merit of each variety.

Please visit Safety Gloves for a wide variety of EN 388 accredited gloves.