Work Gloves EN388 Hand Protection

Why Use Work Gloves with EN388 Hand Protection?

Active Workwear stock a vast selection of work gloves suitable for various and wide ranging applications. Employers  should select a suitable work glove dependent upon the type of work to minimise risk to workers. EN388 regulation helps by specifying the levels of abrasion, cut, tear and puncture a particular glove is capable of withstanding. Leather/cloth Rigger gloves, the staple of traditional industrial gloves, tend to be EN388 Category 2 and available in a variety of resistance scores dependent on the application the glove is required for. All of our safety work gloves are of robust quality but are competitively priced, especially if purchased in full cartons, We have a collection of  general purpose work gloves MP1 is the staple construction/ builders gloves often called grip, gripz or gripper gloves .There are a wide range of styles, again with different test scores, to suit the wide variety of ways they can be employed.

Safety in the workplace is a fundamental aspect that cannot be overlooked. Among the protective gear that workers need, work gloves play a significant role, especially for those working in industrial and mechanical fields. The EN388 standard, also known as the European Standard for Protective Gloves Against Mechanical Risks, serves as a crucial benchmark for evaluating and ensuring the safety of work gloves. In this article, we delve into the EN388 standard, its importance, and why it is crucial to use work gloves that conform to this standard.

Understanding the EN388 Standard

EN388 is a European standard utilised to evaluate mechanical risks for hand protection. Gloves that conform to the EN388 standard undergo third-party testing and are rated for their resistance to abrasion, cut, tear, and puncture. The standard uses a unique numbering and lettering system to denote the level of protection offered by the gloves.

Note: The EN388 standard underwent a significant update in 2016 to include a new test for cut resistance and an impact protection test, thus making the gloves subject to this standard even more reliable.

How the EN388 Rating Works

Each glove that meets the EN388 standard features a pictogram followed by a series of numbers and letters. This rating system provides a clear indication of the glove's performance against various mechanical risks.

Here's how to interpret the EN388 rating:

  1. Abrasion Resistance: The first number, ranging from 1 to 4, indicates the glove's resistance to abrasion. The higher the number, the better the glove resists wear and tear.
  2. Cut Resistance (Coup Test): The second number, ranging from 1 to 5, signifies the glove's resistance to cuts based on the Coup Test. A higher number implies better cut resistance.
  3. Tear Resistance: The third number, ranging from 1 to 4, represents the glove's tear resistance. A higher number means the glove is less likely to tear or rip during use.
  4. Puncture Resistance: The fourth number, also ranging from 1 to 4, denotes the glove's puncture resistance. Gloves with a higher number offer better protection against punctures.
  5. Cut Resistance (ISO 13997 Test): The fifth symbol, a letter ranging from A to F, indicates the glove's cut resistance based on the ISO 13997 test. F indicates the highest level of protection.
  6. Impact Protection: The last symbol is either a 'P' for passed, or 'F' for failed. If a glove does not provide this type of protection, it is given an 'X', meaning not tested.

Importance of the EN388 Standard

Adherence to the EN388 standard is vital for several reasons:

  1. Enhanced Worker Safety: Gloves that meet the EN388 standard provide reliable protection against common mechanical risks such as cuts, tears, punctures, and abrasions.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: For companies operating across Europe, using EN388 compliant gloves ensures conformity with workplace safety regulations.
  3. Product Quality Assurance: The stringent testing process associated with the EN388 standard guarantees that the gloves have been thoroughly vetted for quality and performance.
  4. Informed Purchasing Decisions: The EN388 rating system allows employers and safety managers to make informed decisions when purchasing safety gloves, ensuring the selected gloves offer adequate protection against the specific hazards present in their work environment.

Changes in the EN388:2016 Standard

The EN388 standard underwent significant changes in 2016. The most notable change was the formal inclusion of the ISO 13997 cut test method, which is similar to the ASTM F2992-15 test method used in the ANSI 105 standard. This new test was introduced to address the problem of "blade dulling" in the previous "Coup Test".

The updated standard also introduced an impact protection test, intended for gloves designed for protection against impact. This inclusion makes the EN388:2016 standard a more comprehensive tool for evaluating the safety and effectiveness of work gloves.

Choosing the Right Gloves

Selecting the right safety gloves for your specific needs involves understanding the potential hazards in your work environment and matching them with the appropriate level of protection as indicated by the EN388 rating.

For instance, if your workers are regularly handling sharp objects, you should look for gloves with a high cut resistance rating. Alternatively, if your workers are dealing with coarse materials, gloves with high abrasion resistance would be more suitable.

Remember, the gloves should not only offer the required level of protection but also provide comfort, dexterity, and durability for all-day wear.

In conclusion, the EN388 standard plays a critical role in ensuring worker safety by setting the benchmark for mechanical risks protection in work gloves. As an employer or safety manager, understanding this standard can help you make informed decisions when purchasing safety gloves, ensuring your workers are adequately protected against potential hazards. Remember, safety should always be a priority in the workplace, and choosing the right protective gear is a significant step towards achieving this goal.

Frequently asked questions about EN388 Hand Protection

What does EN 388 mean on gloves?

EN 388 is a European standard used to evaluate the mechanical risks and protection levels of gloves. When a glove is labelled with EN 388, it signifies that the glove has been tested and certified for its ability to provide protection against mechanical hazards. These include abrasions, cuts, tears, and punctures. The EN 388 standard is crucial in helping users select the appropriate gloves for their work, ensuring that their hands are adequately protected against potential hazards they may encounter in their working environment.

Here’s how the EN 388 standard breaks down the protection levels of gloves:

Abrasion Resistance:

    • This is assessed by the number of cycles required to abrade through the sample glove.
    • The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 (lowest) and 4 (highest).

Cut Resistance (Coupe Test):

    • This is evaluated by the number of cycles required to cut through the sample glove using a rotating circular blade.
    • The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest).

Tear Resistance:

    • This is determined by the amount of force required to tear the sample glove.
    • The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 (lowest) and 4 (highest).

Puncture Resistance:

    • This is assessed by the amount of force required to puncture the sample glove with a standard-sized point.
    • The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 (lowest) and 4 (highest).

In addition to these, a newer version of the EN 388 standard introduced in 2016 includes a separate cut resistance test known as the ISO Cut Test (often labelled as ISO 13997 or simply "TDM"). This test uses a straight-edge blade and a consistent speed to evaluate the cut resistance of gloves, providing an additional metric to ensure better accuracy in determining a glove's protective capabilities against cuts.

The EN 388 certification, therefore, provides a comprehensive and standardised method of evaluating and communicating the mechanical protective qualities of work gloves, allowing for better-informed decisions when selecting gloves for specific work tasks.

What is the EN 388 mechanical risk?

EN 388 Mechanical Risk refers to the categorisation and evaluation of the level of protection a pair of gloves provides against various mechanical hazards encountered in the workplace. The EN 388 standard, adopted by the European Union, is geared towards ensuring that gloves can adequately protect users against hazards such as abrasions, cuts, tears, and punctures. This standard is instrumental in aiding individuals and organisations in selecting the most suitable gloves based on the nature and level of mechanical risks present in their working environment.

Here’s an outline of the mechanical risks assessed under EN 388:

Abrasion Resistance:

    • Measures the glove's ability to withstand wear and tear when rubbed against rough surfaces. Higher abrasion resistance ensures longer glove lifespan and better protection against abrasions.

Cut Resistance (Coupe Test):

    • Evaluates the glove's resistance to cutting hazards such as those from sharp-edged materials like glass or metal. This is critical in environments where workers handle sharp objects.

Tear Resistance:

    • Assesses the glove's capacity to resist tearing, which is crucial in maintaining the glove’s protective qualities even under strenuous use.

Puncture Resistance:

    • Evaluates the glove's ability to resist penetration from pointed objects like nails or needles, which is vital in preventing puncture injuries.

In the revised EN 388 standard (2016), an additional cut resistance test known as the ISO Cut Test (or TDM Test) is included to provide a more accurate measure of cut resistance, especially for gloves made with advanced cut-resistant materials.

By examining gloves against these mechanical risks, the EN 388 standard provides a clear, standardised indication of a glove's protective capabilities. This enables safer work practices by ensuring that individuals are equipped with appropriate hand protection to mitigate the mechanical risks inherent in their respective work tasks.

What are EN 388 level 4 gloves?

EN 388 level 4 gloves are categorised based on their performance in specific tests outlined by the EN 388 standard, which evaluates the mechanical protections provided by gloves. The level 4 designation represents a particular level of performance in each of these tests. Here's a breakdown of what level 4 signifies in the context of EN 388 for each mechanical risk:

Abrasion Resistance:

    • Level 4 indicates the highest level of abrasion resistance under this standard. Gloves with this level can withstand a higher number of cycles on an abrasive surface before the material wears through.

Cut Resistance (Coupe Test):

    • In the Coupe Test, level 4 represents a good level of cut resistance, although it's not the highest level (which is level 5). Gloves at this level provide a good balance of protection and dexterity.

Tear Resistance:

    • Level 4 signifies the highest level of tear resistance. Gloves rated at this level can withstand higher forces before tearing, making them suitable for demanding tasks.

Puncture Resistance:

    • Level 4 also represents the highest level of puncture resistance, indicating a strong ability to resist penetration from sharp objects.

When you see a glove labelled with EN 388 followed by four numbers, each number corresponds to the performance level (from 1 to 4 or 5) in each of the tests - abrasion, cut, tear, and puncture resistance, respectively. For example, a glove marked EN 388 4444 would signify the highest level of performance (level 4) in all four categories.

If you are considering gloves for a specific task, understanding the EN 388 levels and the corresponding mechanical risks can guide you to select gloves that offer the necessary protection while also meeting other requirements such as dexterity and comfort.

What does EN 388 stand for?

EN 388 is a European Standard designated for evaluating and certifying the performance of protective gloves against mechanical risks. The abbreviation "EN" stands for "European Norm," which signifies that this standard is accepted across the European Union. The number "388" is the specific identifier for the standard related to mechanical risks.

Under the EN 388 standard, gloves are subjected to a series of tests to assess their resistance to various mechanical hazards such as abrasions, cuts, tears, and punctures. The results of these tests are then indicated on the gloves, providing users with a clear understanding of the level of protection they can expect in each of these categories.

The primary aim of the EN 388 standard is to ensure that gloves provide a reliable level of protection against mechanical risks, aiding in the selection of appropriate hand protection for different work environments and tasks. Through standardised testing and clear labelling, EN 388 helps promote safer work practices by enabling individuals and organisations to make informed decisions when selecting protective gloves.

Is EN 388 abrasion resistance?

Yes, abrasion resistance is one of the key mechanical protections evaluated under the EN 388 standard for protective gloves. The EN 388 standard assesses gloves for their ability to withstand abrasion, which is crucial for ensuring that the gloves provide a durable protective barrier in environments where hands might come into contact with rough or abrasive surfaces. 

The abrasion resistance test under EN 388 is conducted by subjecting the glove material to cycles of abrasion, and the performance is rated on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 indicating the highest level of abrasion resistance. This rating helps individuals and organisations to select gloves with the appropriate level of abrasion resistance required for their specific work tasks and conditions.

What is the difference between ANSI and EN 388?

ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and EN 388 (European Norm 388) are both standards used to evaluate and certify the protective qualities of work gloves, but they originate from different regions and have some differences in their testing methodologies and rating systems. Here's a comparative analysis:

Region of Origin and Acceptance:

    • ANSI is a standard that originates from the United States, while EN 388 is a European standard. The acceptance and adherence to these standards may vary between regions.

Testing Methodologies:

    • Abrasion Resistance: Both standards test for abrasion resistance, but they use different methods and scales for rating.
    • Cut Resistance: The testing methods for cut resistance differ significantly. EN 388 uses a rotating circular blade (Coupe Test) and a straight-edge blade (TDM Test) in the updated version, while ANSI uses a straight-edge blade and measures the gram force needed to cut through the glove material.
    • Tear and Puncture Resistance: Both standards evaluate tear and puncture resistance, though the testing apparatus and rating scales may vary.

Rating Systems:

    • EN 388 provides a four-digit code representing the performance levels in abrasion, cut, tear, and puncture resistance tests. Each digit ranges from 1 to 4 or 5, indicating the performance level.
    • ANSI cut resistance is rated on a scale from A1 to A9, with A9 indicating the highest level of cut resistance. The other mechanical risks are rated on a different numerical scale.

Updates and Revisions:

    • EN 388 was updated in 2016 to include a new cut resistance test (ISO 13997 or TDM Test) to provide more accurate results for gloves made with advanced cut-resistant materials.
    • ANSI also has its updates, like the ANSI/ISEA 105-2016, which expanded the cut resistance scale to better represent the advancements in cut-resistant materials.

Recognition and Compliance:

    • Organisations and individuals in Europe are more likely to adhere to the EN 388 standard, while those in the United States and other regions may adhere to the ANSI standard.

Both standards aim to provide a clear, standardised way of evaluating and communicating the protective qualities of work gloves, enabling better-informed decisions when selecting gloves for specific work tasks. 

However, the differences in testing methodologies and rating systems mean that gloves rated under one standard may not have directly comparable ratings under the other standard. Hence, understanding the nuances of each standard is crucial for ensuring appropriate glove selection based on the specific mechanical risks and regulatory compliance requirements in a given work environment.

What is the puncture level of CE EN 388?

The puncture level in the context of the CE EN 388 standard refers to the measure of a glove's resistance to puncture by sharp objects. The CE (Conformité Européenne) marking indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area, and EN 388 is the European Standard for gloves meant to protect against mechanical risks, including punctures.

Here's how puncture resistance is evaluated and categorised under the EN 388 standard:

Testing Method:

    • The puncture resistance test is carried out using a standardised, tapered steel probe which is used to puncture the glove material. The amount of force required to penetrate the glove material with the probe is measured to determine the glove's puncture resistance.

Rating System:

    • Puncture resistance is rated on a scale from 1 to 4 under EN 388, with 1 being the lowest level of puncture resistance and 4 being the highest.

    • A glove rated as level 4 in puncture resistance would provide the highest level of protection against punctures as per this standard, while a level 1 rating would indicate the lowest level of puncture protection.


    • The performance level for puncture resistance is indicated by the fourth digit in the four-digit number sequence on gloves certified to EN 388. For example, a glove marked EN 388 2142 would have a puncture resistance rating of 2.

Understanding the puncture resistance level is crucial for selecting the right gloves for tasks where there's a risk of puncture injuries from sharp objects such as needles, metal shards, or glass fragments. By adhering to the ratings provided under the CE EN 388 standard, individuals and organisations can make informed decisions in selecting gloves that provide adequate protection against punctures and other mechanical hazards in their specific work environments.

Most gloves have a cotton or nylon liner glove base which is then dipped in latex, nitrile or PVC rubber glove to provide a tough outer layer . We stock a selection of disposable work gloves in latex, vinyl and nitrile. Most disposable latex/nitrile gloves are available either powdered or non powdered as people are allergic to the powder used ie cornflower starch. Similarly, some people have a latex allergy and will need to use nitrile of vinyl disposables. This section contains work gloves for specific hazards including gauntlets for chemical handling, needle proof hazard gauntlets, cut resistant gloves and heat resistant gauntlet for dealing with heat and cold  Safety Work Gloves from the worlds leading brands from knitted gloves  Cut Level 5 safety gauntlets and gloves, MP1 Gripper Gloves, Kevlar, Glass Fibre, Leather water resistant glove from Blaklader, Dewalt and Click 2000.