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Understanding EN 388 in safety gloves

Table of Contents

You may have seen your safety gloves marked with a EN number similar to this:

safety gloves EN 388 ratings

But what does it all mean?

And how do you know your safety gloves have the correct rating to keep your hands safe whilst working?

Well, throughout this post we’re going to take a look at what the EN 388 rating on your safety gloves means and point you in the right direction to ensure your hands stay safe.

So the first question to ask is…

What is EN 388 on your safety gloves?

EN 388:2016 is a standard that puts safety gloves through rigorous and comprehensive testing to evaluate their abrasion resistance, cut resistance and impact resistance.

This allows you to evaluate the gloves in a definitive and exacting manner, ensuring you have the right pair for the job in hand.

In conjunction with the pictogram shown below, four numbers and one, or two letters, are displayed.

This shows the performance ratings of the safety gloves.

But which safety gloves are best for my requirements?

Lets, take a look at some options and understand more about what the ratings of each safety glove means.

ABRASION RESISTANCE (EN 388)

The safety gloves material is subjected to abrasion by a sandpaper under a determined pressure.

The protection level is indicated on a scale of 1 to 4 depending on the number of turns required until a hole appears in the material.

Simply put.

The higher the number is, the better the resistance to abrasion.

CUT RESISTANCE or COUP TEST (EN 388)

The cut protection of safety gloves is tested.

A knife is passed over the glove material until it cuts through.

The protection level is given by a number between 1 and 5, where 5 indicates the highest cut protection.

If the material dulls the knife during this test, the cut test ISO 13997(TDM test) shall be performed instead, see point 5.

STEARING STRENGTH (EN 388)

The force required to tear the safety gloves material apart is measured.

The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 and 4, where 4 indicates the strongest material.

PUNCTURE RESISTANCE

Based on the amount of force required to puncture the material with a tip.

The protection function is indicated by a number between 1 and 4, where 4 indicates the strongest material.

CUT RESISTANCE, TDM TEST ISO 13997

If the knife gets dull during the safety gloves coup test, see point 2, this test shall be performed instead.

The result is given by a letter, A to F, where F indicates the highest level of protection.

If any of these letters is given, this method determines the protection level instead of the coup test.

ISO 13997:1999 – Determination of resistance to cutting by sharp objects

An alternative cut test recommended for cut protection gloves.

Shall be used in EN388:2016 for cut protection gloves where the cut material dulls the cutting knife during testing. A knife cuts with constant speed but increasing force until breakthrough of the cut protection material.

Level of protection is given in Newton, the force needed for cut through at 20mm cut length.

IMPACT PROTECTION

If the glove has an impact protection, this information is given by the letter P as the 6th and last sign.

If no P sign, no impact protection is claimed.