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Choosing the Right Gloves

Hands at work are vulnerable to a wide range of hazards including cuts, blows, chemical exposure and temperature extremes. To conform to European regulations all gloves must conform to the Personal Protective Equipment 89/686/EEC Directive or PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425. This categorises products into three groups.

Category 1: Simple Design

For areas of minimal risk where the effects of not wearing a glove are easily reversible or superficial. Such products are self-certified

Category 2: Intermediate Design EN388

For areas of specific risk, for example mechanical risks. Such products will have been EC type tested against European test methods and a certificate of conformity is obtained from an approved inspection body.

Category 3: Complex Design EN388 cat 3

For areas/applications that can seriously or irreversibly harm the health. Such products, in addition to the EC type test, will also have to be either produced under an approved quality system OR be tested on an annual basis. Regular inspection gloves are taken from production.

The Standards

EN420: 2003

General Requirements for Protective Gloves

Each glove carries the manufacturer's logo, the reference, the size and CE mark. If it is classed in category III, the number of the notified body that carried out the tests also appears on the glove.

Dexterity (1-5)
The higher the rating, the greater the dexterity.

Innocuousness (pH)
All gloves are checked for compliance in terms of their pH value (between 3.5 and 9.5).

Performance levels
The higher the rating, the greater the performance, the lowest rating being zero.

All our tested gloves conform to the EN420 which means that the glove has been manufactured to European sizing standards. Is generally between sizes 5 and 11 and corresponds to standard for the circumference of the palm.

All our gloves are shown with a suggested range of applications.

This is by no means exhaustive but provides for a general guide.

EN374-3: Gloves Giving Protection from Chemicals and Micro Organisms

EN374-3 gloves are able to protect you from chemicals. Gloves that reach this standard will be awarded the symbol above:EN374-2: RESISTANCE TO WATER PENETRATION


EN374-2: If your gloves meet this standard they will display the symbol above:This standard specifies the capability of gloves to protect the user against chemicals and/or micro-organisms.


Gloves carrying this symbol have been tested for liquid proof permeation. They do not achieve EN374-3 grading but do pass the leak test of EN374-2. A pictogram can be placed on the glove if it has undergone a chemical resistance test (air leak test) regardless of the value. Tests are conducted in a laboratory under conditions coming as close as possible to real conditions of use.


The movement of a chemical and/or micro-organism through porous materials, seam, pinholes or other imperfections in a protective glove material at a non-molecular level.

The rubber and plastic films in gloves do not always act as barriers to liquids. Sometimes they can act as sponges, soaking up the liquids and holding them against the skin. It is therefore necessary to measure break-through times, or the time taken for the hazardous liquid to come in contact with the skin.


  • The minimum liquid proof section of the glove shall be at least equal to the minimum length of the glove specified in EN 420.
  • Penetration: A glove shall not leak when tested to an air and/or water leak test, and shall be tested and inspected in compliance with the Acceptable Quality Level.

Warning: The chemical data information does not necessarily reflect the actual duration in the workplace

EN388: Mechanical Hazards


Mechanical hazards are associated with the handling of rough or sharp objects which could harm the skin, such as glass, thin metal sheet and masonry blocks. A mechanical hazard is not associated with moving machinery where it could be considered dangerous to wear gloves which could catch in moving parts.

Eg: an item with the symbol above has been tested to at least intermediate design level and achieves the following scores:

A: Abrasion resistance 1 (out of 4)
B: Blade cut resistance (Coup Test) 2 (out of 5)
C: Tear resistance 3 (out of 4)
D: Puncture resistance 4 (out of 4)

E: Cut Resistance (TDM-100 test) C (Measured A to F)

F: Impact Protection X (Measured P or F)

Wherever an X is used, it denotes that the glove has not been tested in that category. This doesn't call the glove quality into question but shows that the test is inappropriate for that type of glove. For example, a fine dexterity glove will not benefit from being tested for impact protection.

EN407: Gloves Giving Protection from Thermal Hazards

This standard specifies thermal performance for protective gloves against heat and/or fi re.


The nature and degree of protection is shown by a pictogram followed by a series of six performance levels, relating to specific protective qualities. Gloves must also achieve at least Performance level 1 for abrasion and tear.

The 'heat and flame' pictogram is accompanied by a 6-digit number:

a. Resistance to flammability (performance level 0-4)

Based on the length of time the material continues to burn and glow after the source of ignition is removed. The seams of the glove shall not come apart after an ignition time of 15 seconds.

b. Contact heat resistance (performance level 0-4)

Based on the temperature range (100-500oC) at which the user will feel no pain for at least 15 seconds. If an EN level 3 or higher is obtained, the product shall record at least EN level 3 in the flammability test. Otherwise, the maximum contact heat level shall be reported as level 2.

c. Convective heat resistance (performance level 0-4)

Based on the length of time the glove is able to delay the transfer of heat from a flame. A performance level shall only be mentioned if a performance level of 3 or 4 is obtained in the flammability test.

d. Radiant heat resistance (performance level 0-4)

Based on the length of time the glove is able to delay the transfer of heat when exposed to a radiant heat source. A performance level shall only be mentioned if a performance level 3 or 4 is obtained in the flammability test.

e. Resistance to small splashes of molten metal (performance level 0-4)

The number of molten metal drops required to heat the glove sample to a given level. A performance level shall only be mentioned if a performance level 3 or 4 is obtained in the flammability test.

f. Resistance to large splashes of molten metal (performance level 0-4)

The weight of molten metal required to cause smoothing or pin-holing across a simulated skin placed directly behind the glove sample. The test is failed if metal droplets remain stuck to the glove material or if the specimen ignites.

Contact Heat Resistance

A sample is taken from the palm area of the glove. The outside of the glove is put on a hot surface and the temperature on the inside of the glove is then monitored. The temperature on the inside of the glove must take 15 seconds or more to rise by 10ºC from room temperature.


Gloves Giving Protection Radioactive Contamination and Ionising Radiation

This standard applies to gloves to protect from Ionising Radiation and Radioactive Contamination.


The nature of protection is shown by a pictogram relating to the specific protective qualities.

  • To protect from radioactive contamination, the glove has to be liquid-proof and needs to pass the penetration test defined in EN 374.
  • For gloves used in containment enclosures, the glove shall offer high resistance to permeability of water vapour.
  • To protect from ionising radiation, the glove has to contain a certain amount of lead, quoted as 'lead equivalence'. This Lead Equivalence must be marked on each glove.
  • Materials exposed to ionising radiation may be modelled by their behaviour to ozone cracking. This test is optional and can be used as an aid to selecting gloves which require resistance to ionising radiation.

EN511: Gloves Giving Protection from Cold

This standard applies to any gloves to protect the hands against convective and contact cold down to -50oC.


Protection against cold is expressed by a pictogram followed by a series of 3 performance levels, relating to specific protective qualities.

The 'cold hazard' pictogram is accompanied by a 3-digit number:

All gloves must achieve at least EN388 performance level 1 for abrasion and tear.

Convective cold resistance: based on the thermal insulation properties of the glove which are obtained by measuring the transfer of cold via convection.

Contact cold resistance: based on the thermal resistance of the glove material when exposed to contact with a cold object.

Water impermeability: 0 = water penetration after 30 minutes of exposure 1 = no water penetration.

Thermal hazards can come in many forms. Heat can be radiated or conducted, or it may be actual flames. Cold can be anything from cold water to frozen gases.

Directive 2002/72 EC: Food Compatibility

European directive 2002/72 (which replaces 90/128/EEC) governs the conditions and restrictions that all plastic materials and objects must comply with if they are intended to come into contact with foods.

Standard EN1149-1: Electrostatic Properties of Protective Clothing

The glove attains the levels of resistivity required by this standard in terms of electrostatic conduction or dissipation.