Quick Guide to PPE Glove Standards

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Puncture and Cut Resistant Gloves.

Cut Resistant Gloves — How Are These Products Rated ?

For most glove buyers the key question is: How do I reduce injury rates at work? Common sense tells you that cut resistant gloves should be part of your safety program.  But which cut and puncture gloves do you buy? There must be a PPE standard for safety gloves.  Unfortunately buyers find PPE standards difficult to use and these standards are not very helpful with glove selection. We are going to try to boil this “standards and ratings” question down to just the key points.


Worldwide there are 2 important safety glove rating systems:

  • In Europe and many parts of the world the EN388 standard is used
  • In the US, the newer standard ANSI/ISEA 105-2011 is used
  • Other standards for heat, chemical protection and vibration

EN388 and ANSI/ISEA 105 are both mechanical protection standards, they cover:

  • Cut resistance to blades moving slowly, expressed as levels 1-5  with 5 the highest
  • Puncture Resistance to large blunt rods, expressed as levels 1-4  with 4 the highest
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Tear Resistance

The test methods and levels are not the same for the two systems and some care needs to be used to make sure that you are comparing glove ratings within the same system – ANSI to ANSI and EN388 to EN388. Cut resistant glove ratings for ANSI/ISEA are somewhat higher than the same rating levels for EN388.   So use the ANSI/ISEA system to keep things simple.


Cut Resistant Gloves for Cut Threats

Utility Knife = Lost Time Machine Cut threats are the most common issue in the work place


What is NOT Important in Safety Glove Ratings

So what’s important about these standards?  It may be easier to look at what’s NOT important, or less important as a start: 

 Abrasion Resistance and the Tear Resistance are low priority for most users.  It is unlikely that your glove performance will be affected by these ratings. If abrasion and tear are important to your application you are already aware of how to use these 2 rating factors for your glove needs.

This gets us down to the 2 key factors for most users, Cut Resistance and Puncture Resistance.  We will look at these two rating factors one at a time.

Buy Cut 5 Rated Gloves and Reduce Your Injury Rates

Technology for cut resistant gloves has come a long way in 20 years.  At one time this type of PPE was dominated by Kevlar fiber and Spectra fiber in knit gloves.  Knitting enough Kevlar or Spectra into the glove to deliver cut 5 made for a thick, bulky product. Now there are more advanced composite materials, like TurtleSkin CP,  used as a thin layer in very light glove. These materials give the highest cut level 5 performance with little or no loss of dexterity.

For users of cut resistant gloves it is very difficult to know what cut level is needed for a particular task.  At this point advanced cut level 5 gloves are thin and offer great dexterity.  Go ahead and reduce your injury rates and buy the maximum level of cut resistance.  Advanced glove technology makes cut 5 an easy decision.

If you just can’t get enough of this PPE technology stuff see more information in the white paper on Dynamic Cut and Puncture.

Lets Try to Make Some Sense of Safety Glove Puncture Resistance Ratings

The second of the 2 most important factors is puncture. Most hand injuries are a combination of cut and puncture, so puncture resistance is a definite factor in reduction of lost time accidents. Unfortunately the ANSI and EN388 puncture tests use a very large diameter 0.2″ or 5mm test probe. Most users of cut resistant gloves are really more concerned about  smaller, sharper threats.  Most customers talk about  sheet metal slivers, small wires, glass shards, wood splinters and even hypodermic needles as the important puncture threats. The EN388 and ANSI/ISEA105 puncture rating does not help you with these threats.  Some suppliers (TurtleSkin and others) use the ASTM F1342 -05(2013) because this test has the small sharp probe and hypo as test options.

If you feel that puncture is part of your injury history you can get more information on protection from our Puncture White Paper .

The second alternative is to buy gloves that are rated for ASTM F1342-05 at 200-700 grams of Hypodermic Needle  Puncture and you’ll know your are covered.

One last thought on PPE :

 “Buy what you will WEAR and then WEAR what you buy”

“Cut resistant gloves don’t prevent injuries if they stay in your pocket.”

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