ANSI 105/EN 388 Standards for Hand Protection Cut Resistance

Important to Know:

Two global standards are used to evaluate the protection levels of work gloves: the ANSI/ISEA 105 (U.S.) and EN 388 (EU). EN 388 is also commonly cited in other parts of the world (i.e., Canada, AUS/NZ and South America).

A cut is usually considered to be a wound caused by a sharp object (knife or glass shard). A laceration implies a torn or jagged wound. Lacerations tend to be caused by sharp objects. Cuts and lacerations are terms often used interchangeably for the same condition or wound.

ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 & EN 388 are voluntary standards where manufacturers can choose the attributes they would like to make claims, perform testing and label classifications accordingly. The standards address the classification and testing of hand protection for specific performance properties related to chemical and industrial applications. Within these standards, hand protection includes gloves, mittens, partial gloves or other items covering the hand or a portion of the hand that are intended to provide protection against, or resistance to, a specific hazard. Performance ranges are provided for:

  • Mechanical protection (cut-resistance, puncture-resistance and abrasion-resistance)
  • Chemical protection (permeation resistance, degradation)
  • Other performance characteristics, such as ignition-resistance and vibration reductions, based on standardized test methods

Standard Requirements:

Gloves are classified to performance levels based upon their performance when evaluated against set industry test methods. The ratings can assist users in selecting appropriate hand protection for known specific hazards in the workplace. Performances are rated in Chemical and Mechanical Protection categories, as well as “Other” protections.

Chemical Protection

Permeation testing is done in accordance with ASTM Method F 739 standards. In this method, a specimen is cut from the glove and clamped into a test cell as a barrier membrane. The exterior side of the specimen is then exposed to a hazardous chemical. At timed intervals, the unexposed interior side of the test cell is checked for the presence of the permeated chemical and the extent to which it may have permeated the glove material.

Mechanical Protection

  • Cut-resistance—In an effort to reduce variation for purposes of classifying a glove to ANSI/ISEA 105, a single test method (ASTM F2992-15 for TDM) was selected to help provide consistent meaning of the ratings, from the end-user perspective. The number of classification levels has also been expanded in the latest standard update to address the gap among certain levels seen in earlier versions and to model the approach used in similar international standards. ISEA and EN cut levels will be determined with the same piece of test equipment.
  • Puncture resistance—The standard puncture test remains the same, using the EN388 puncture probe. An additional update is the inclusion of a needlestick puncture test, recognizing that this is a common potential exposure for the medical, sanitation and recycling industries. The standard EN388 probe is quite large. There is a segment of users who need protection from smaller hypodermic needles, requiring a significantly different puncture device—very thin and sharp—and calling for using a new testing method and rating scale. The new method uses a 25-gauge needle as a probe. The normal industrial puncture test is done in accordance with clause 6.4 of EN 388:2003 (updated in 2016). A circular test specimen, cut from the glove palm, is mounted in a holder and punctured with a stylus of specified sharpness attached to a tensile tester. The force required to puncture the specimen to failure is measured. Results are classified into five performance levels: The higher the result, the better the performance. The average of 12 specimens (minimum) are used to determine the classification level.
  • Abrasion resistance—These ASTM test methods (D3389-10 and D3884-09) shall be followed using H-18 abrasion wheels with a 500g load for levels 0-3 and a 1,000g load for levels 4-6. The test method has a 4in circular test specimen mounted on a horizontal axis platform, while being abraded to failure under a specified vertical weight load (500 or 1,000g) by the sliding rotation of two vertically oriented abrading wheels. The abrading wheels are comprised of vitrified clay and silicon carbide abrasive particles.

Other Protection

  • Ignition resistance–Testing in accordance with ASTM F1358-16, the glove material’s ignition-resistance and burning behavior should be classified against the levels provided in the standard. In order to be classified at a specific level, the glove material needs to meet each of the criteria at that specific level.
  • Vibration reductions–The glove’s vibration-reduction is classified as “pass” or “fail,” when testing in accordance with ANSI S2.73-2002 (ISO 10819). A glove can only be considered an anti-vibration glove, if it fulfills both of the following criteria: TRM < 1.0 and TRH < 0.6, according to this standard.

Increase Your Knowledge:

Did You Know?

New cut-resistance standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Safety Equipment Associations (ISEA) became effective in March 2016. The standards include changes to the ratings scale and the standardization on a testing methodology. The European Standard for Protective Gloves-EN 388 was updated in November 2016. EN 388 is similar to ANSI/ISEA 105 and is used to evaluate mechanical risks for hand protection. Gloves with a EN 388 rating are third-party tested and rated for abrasion-, cut-, tear- and puncture-resistance. Cut resistance is rated 1-5, while all other physical performance factors are rated 1-4. Up until this update, the EN 388 standard used only the Coup Test* to test for cut resistance. The new EN 388 2016 standard uses both the Coup Test and the TDM-100 Test to measure cut resistance for a more accurate score. Also included in the updated standard is a new Impact Protection test. In North America, you can find the EN 388 marking on many cut-resistant gloves.

*Coup Test: The cut protection is tested when a knife is passed over the glove material until it cuts through. Protection level is a number between 1-5; 5 indicates the highest cut protection.

As originally seen in the January 2021 issue of Workplace Material Handling & Safety.

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