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What Does Puncture Resistance Mean?

There are many different categories of safety gloves, all of which have ratings measuring their performance when faced with certain hazards. Puncture resistance is one of those factors tested to determine how good a glove is at protecting you from puncture hazards.

So when a glove has a puncture score, what does that mean? What will a puncture resistant glove protect you from? These are common queries when it comes to puncture resistant gloves.

Puncture resistant gloves protect the wearer from punctures, cuts, tearing and abrasions. Puncture resistant gloves are usually used to handle sheet metal or glass, in construction, light fabrication, shipping and receiving and for general plant use. However, if a safety glove is puncture resistant, it does not necessarily mean that it protects against hypodermic needles. 

The EN338 Test - How Puncture Resistance Is Measured

The European EN388 Standards use regulation testing to test and analyse glove performance against hazards. The gloves are then rated according to their performance. There are strict guidelines and testing practices in place to ensure puncture resistant gloves are of optimal quality and offer enough protection against hazards. The gloves are given an EN388 rating with a four digit number as a score for the tested hazard in the format EN388 abcd. These letters correspond to the following hazards:

  • a = resistance to abrasion (0 - 4)
  • b = blade cut resistance (0 - 5)
  • c = tear resistance (0 - 4)
  • d = puncture resistance (0 - 4)

Let's take an example score of EN388 1234. This imaginary glove has a low score for resistance to abrasion (a score of 1), a score of 2 for blade cut resistance, a score of 3 for tear resistance and a score of 4 for puncture resistance which is a top score for puncture resistance.

To test the puncture resistance of a safety glove, a steel stylus (like a large metal nail) is pressed into the taught fabric of the glove.  The force required for the stylus to puncture the fabric is the measurement used in the rating chart. Although the metal used is similar to a large nail, it is not a needle stick. 

Many gloves are made up of more than one layer of fabric. When testing, all layers of fabric are tested together to measure puncture resistance as one garment. This puncture test is carried out on a sample of four different gloves and an average of the Newtons that the samples can withstand is taken to reach the overall performance level.

Rating of Glove Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Puncture Resistance (Newtons) <10  ≥ 10 ≥ 20 ≥ 60 ≥ 100 ≥ 150

Puncture Resistant Is Not Necessarily Needle Stick Resistant

It is important to note that the test conducted to determine the puncture resistance of a safety glove is not an indication of the resistance to piercing with a sharp pointed object like a hypodermic needle or a fine shard of glass. To protect yourself from these hazards, you would need to consider a needle stick resistant glove.

At Safety Gloves, we retail a great range of needle stick resistant gloves that are puncture resistant, but it does not follow that every puncture resistant glove is needle stick resistant.

What are Puncture Resistant Safety Gloves Made Of?

Puncture resistant gloves can be made from layering a number of different specialist materials, and are often designed to have other protection rating levels such as cut and tear resistance to meet the requirements of handling applications that pose a puncture risk. An example of some of the materials used in some of the best-selling puncture resistant gloves are as follows:

  • Kevlar 
  • Wire – woven into the glove
  • Nylon blend – for the glove upper
  • Steel mesh – often used for the palm
  • Nitrile coating – used for protection and grip
  • Leather
  • Latex coating

It is worth noting that a simple knitted glove does not offer protection against hard and sharp objects unless it is reinforced with leather or some other resistant material. Please be aware that if you ever come across a knitted glove with a low puncture resistant score, this score is probably caused by the weave of the glove getting caught on the testing stylus during a test cycle. This will give the glove a nominal score, rather than a zero score which is a more accurate reflection of its puncture resistant abilities.

Typical Applications for Puncture Resistant Gloves

It is difficult to determine a definitive list of suitable applications for puncture resistant gloves. Often puncture resistant gloves will also have other hazard protection capabilities such as cut resistance. Glove manufacturers are not solely focussed on obtaining high scores in the EN388 testing - they are looking to provide you with gloves that are protective in real world handling situations.

EN388 ratings can provide you with a useful gauge for how capable a glove is at protecting you from a particular hazard, however it is the combination of protections that will determine the glove you require for your handling application. For example, if you require a glove that has a very high impact resistance or an incredible grip, the EN388 rating will not indicate this.

It is only the combination of the scores and the types of specialized materials used in each type of glove that make them suitable for the industry or specific tasks at your workplace. The table below is an overview of some common uses for puncture resistant gloves, but there are hundreds of other applications that these gloves can be used for. You can always contact our Safety Gloves Experts to help you with your glove selection.

Puncture Resistance Other Resistances Suitable Application
Medium Puncture Resistance High Cut Resistance

Metal Stamping and Fabrication
Glass Handling
Sheet Metal Work
Sharp Steel

High Puncture Resistance Medium Cut Resistance Sheet Metal
Metal Stampings
Glass Handling
High Puncture Resistance High Cut Resistance

Steel Manufacturing
Oil and Gas
Pulp and Paper

To learn more about puncture resistant gloves and see which gloves we offer here at head to our Puncture Resistant Gloves page or contact our team of Safety Gloves Experts.