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All you need is safety gloves: A handy guide to Safety Glove Certification

There are many causes of hand injuries on construction sites but number one on the list is performing tasks without the protection of gloves. Wearing safety gloves is the most effective way of reducing most hand injuries. This simple solution has been proven to reduce the relative risk of injury by 60 percent. Gloves are available to protect hands and forearms from cuts, abrasions, burns, cold, vibration, angry squirrels, skin contact with hazardous chemicals, puncture wounds and some electrical shocks.

Safety gloves are often divided into 3 categories by use.

  • Category I - Simple gloves for minimal risks.
    Light gardening gloves or household gloves used for cleaning and for protection against temperatures less than 50° C

  • Category 2 - Gloves for intermediate risks.
    These general gloves require good puncture and abrasion performance according to the EN 388 standard.

  • Category 3 Gloves for irreversible or mortal risks
    Gloves designed to protect against high risks such as highly corrosive acids.

The main European Standards for Personal Protective Equipment gloves are
EN420: Standard requirements for protective gloves
EN 388 for gloves giving protection from mechanical risks

Other PPE glove certification standards are:

  • EN 407 for gloves giving protection from thermal hazards
  • EN 374 for gloves giving protection from chemicals and microorganisms
  • EN 12477:2001 for gloves for welders
  • EN 659:2003 (+A1:2008) for gloves for firefighters
  • EN 511:2006 for gloves that protect against cold
  • EN 421:2010 for gloves that protect against ionising radiation and radioactive contamination
  • EN 381 Parts 4 and 7:1996 for gloves that protect against chainsaws
  • EN 1082 parts 1-3:1996 to 2000 for gloves that protect against hand knives
  • EN ISO 10819:2013  for gloves that protect against mechanical vibration
  • EN 60903:2003  for gloves that protect during live electrical working


EN 420 Standard requirements
All safety gloves must conform to this basic standard. For this reason EN 420 is often missed from lists of certification.

EN 420 safety gloves must be safe to wear

  • The gloves themselves should not impose a risk or cause injury.
  • The pH of the gloves should be as close as possible to neutral.
  • Leather gloves should have a pH value between 3.5 – 9.5.
  • The highest permitted value for chromium is 3 mg/kg (chrome VI).
  • Specific details of any substance used in the glove which is known to cause allergies
  • Sized by reference to an agreed common European hand size

En388:2016

EN388: The power of gloves

EN388: 2003

The EN388: 2003: Protective Gloves Against Mechanical Risks standard shows the level of protection of a safety glove expressed by a pictogram followed by four numbers representing performance against a specific hazard.

  • Abrasion Resistance (1-4)
  • Blade Cuts Resistance (1-5)
  • Tear Resistance (1-4)
  • Puncture Resistance (1-4)

EN 388 was revised in 2016 and the main change was the addition of the TDM-100 Test

The TDM-100 Test uses a sliding blade and weights since the blade used in the rotary Coup Test can become dull when testing high glass and steel fibre level yarns leading to misleading results.

Gloves may continue to be sold under both versions of the standard until 2023.


EN388: 2016 now has the pictogram followed by four numbers and two letters.

EN388: 2016 Abrasion Resistance
This number will vary between one and four.
Important for all types of handling, but especially for handling rough materials, such as bricks.
It is important to have a high abrasion rating on gloves used in work areas such as construction work.

Blade Cuts Resistance
The second number shows the gloves’ resistance to rotary cuts
This number will vary between one and five.
Work gloves which have a higher rating in this category provide better protection against sharp objects. High levels of blade cut resistance are necessary for workers who handle sheet metal, glass or sharp tools.

Tear Resistance
The third number show the resistance to tearing.
This number will vary between one and four.
Gloves with a high level of tear resistance are very durable, and will withstand demanding work such as construction, landscaping, and heavy handling.

Puncture Resistance
The fourth number shows the gloves’ resistance to punctures.
This number will vary between one and four.
Gloves with high levels of puncture resistance protect against hazards such as needles, thorns, and syringes and are ideal for medical and waste work.

TDM Blade Cuts Resistance
The fifth letter shows the gloves’ resistance to cuts using the TDM  straight cut test
This will vary between A to F.

Impact Resistance
The sixth letter ( P F X ) shows the gloves’ impact resistance and can be P Passed, F Failed or X Not tested.


Written by Chris at 10/06/2018

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