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A Guide To Glove Safety: EN 388

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Most of the reusable gloves that we sell will be certified to EN 388. If you're looking to purchase some EN 388 gloves, or have bought some EN 388 gloves and are unsure of what the standards mean, then this guide will tell you everything you need to know, from the history of the standard to buying your first pair.

Back to Basics: What Is EN 388?

EN 388 is a certification awarded by a certified body to a pair of work gloves. It ranks a gloves performance based off five different tests, giving the gloves a final score that allow the end user to be able to purchase the correct pair of gloves for their chosen risk.

The standard was created in 2003, however was recently adjusted in 2016 to include a fifth test. In exceptional cases, a glove will undergo a further test to establish its resistance to impact, but we'll go into that later.

The five tests are:

  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Cut Resistance (Circular Blade)
  • Tear Resistance
  • Puncture Resistance
  • Cut Resistance (Straight Blade)
  • Impact Protection (dependent on glove)

Specifications

AN EN 388 rated pair of gloves will be tested to abrasion resistance, tear resistance, puncture resistance and at least one of the cut resistance tests (straight blade or circular blade). You can identify an EN 388 rated glove by viewing the below symbol on the back of the gloves in the packaging or in the conformity statement, or you can view the standards table in our copy as seen below. Some main points to remember include:

  • Abrasion, tear and puncture resistance will achieve results of between 0 and 4
  • Circular cut resistance will achieve a rating of between 0 and 5
  • Straight cut resistance will achieve a rating of between A and F
  • 4/5/F is always the best, with 0/A being the worst
  • If a glove achieves N/A it means that they haven't been tested
Mechanical Hazard Level Achieved
Abrasion Resistance Level 4
Cut Resistance (Circular) Level 3
Tear Resistance Level 1
Puncture Resistance Level 2
Cut Resistance (Straight) Level D

The test will be presented by this table with the rating in column 2

EN 388:2003 Example
The back of the gloves will show a gloves results

Below we go into more depth about each of the different tests within EN 388.

Abrasion Resistance

An abrasion resistance glove will be placed underneath a moving blade. It will achieve a level of between 0 and 4 depending on how well it faired. Individual scores can be viewed below:

Abrasion level achieved Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Abrasion cycles withstood  100 500 2000 8000

Where to Buy

Top Abrasion Industries

Cut RESISTANCE (Circular Blade)

The first of the cut tests tests how a glove will respond to a moving blade. Cut gloves can be ranked between 1 and 5 depending on performance. You can view the results below:

Cut level achieved Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Cutting index  1.2 cuts 2.5 cuts 5 cuts 10 cuts 20 cuts

Where to Buy

Top Cut Industries

Tear Resistance

Below we show the level of Newtons a glove has to resist for it to be awarded certain levels of tear resistance.

Tear level achieved Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Tear force (Newtons)  10 25 50 75

Where to Buy

Top Tear Industries

Puncture RESISTANCE

Below we show the levels of Newtons required for a pin to puncture the gloves.

Puncture level achieved Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Puncture force (Newtons) 20 60 100 150

Where to Buy

Top Puncture Industries

Cut RESISTANCE (Straight Blade)

Cut resistance with a straight blade is a little different to the rest. The glove will achieve a score of between A and F, which can be viewed below:

Cut level achieved Level A Level B Level C Level D Level E Level F
Straight blade press (Newtons) 2 5 10 15 22 30

Where to Buy

Top Cut Industries

Impact Protection

Impact resistance is a little difference. The glove will either achieve a Level P or it won't be present, meaning that most gloves won't show the results for impact resistance.

Where to Buy

Your Questions Answered: EN 388

Below we've taken the top questions that we receive about EN 388 and laid them out in an easy quick fire format.

What Is the Difference Between the Two Cut Tests?

The main difference between the two is that the circular blade test is performed with a rotating blade, and the straight blade is a non-rotating blade that is simply placed down upon the gloves. The straight blade is the newer standard and stricter, because the old rotating blade used to get blunted during the test. You can view Our Top Cut 5 Gloves here.

Will a GLove Be Tested to All Tests?

A glove will usually be tested to at least abrasion, puncture, tear and one of the cuts. Newer gloves are often not tested to the old circular cut test, and older gloves haven't always been retested to the newer straight cut test. Furthermore, only a minority of gloves have been tested to the impact resistant tests.

If a glove hasn't been tested to a test, it will receive an N/A.

WHAT If a Glove Fails a Test?

If a glove fails a test it will achieve a Level 0. 

Can Disposable Gloves Be Tested to EN 388?

Very few, if any, of our Single Use Gloves are tested to EN 388, simply because they would fail every single test. If you want to understand the qualities of a disposable glove, then looking into EN 455 and EN 374 might be the best bet.

Are All reusable Gloves Tested to EN 388?

Not all of our Reusable Gloves will be tested to EN 388. For example, some of our Gardening, RiggerCotton and some low risk Handling Gloves might not have been tested to this standard. This doesn't mean that they aren't useless, rather that they are best suited to minimal risk work.

Where Can I Buy EN 388 Gloves?

You can purchase EN 388 gloves across our website. We would recommend looking at the Abrasion Resistant, Cut Resistant, Puncture Resistant and Tear Resistant gloves categories for the top gloves in each area.

Have any questions, or anything to add? Tell us in the comments below, or find us on Facebook and Twitter!