February 16, 2017 | Joe Geng |

4 Changes to the EN 388 Glove Standards You Need to Know

The blog you are about to read was originally published in 2017, directly after the 2016 changes to the European Standard for Protective Gloves (EN 388) were released. Since then, we have continued to update the information in this blog to ensure it is relevant and accurate for today’s reader. 

In 2016, the European Standard for Protective Gloves (EN 388) was updated to account for innovations in glove manufacturing. This blog post will discuss those changes and what you need to know when purchasing gloves tested under EN 388 standards.

Not sure if these changes apply to your glove?

If your gloves have this marking, it does:

en 388 glove standards

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Changes to EN 388 Glove Standards:

  1. Addition of ISO 13997 cut test for engineered yarns

  2. Inclusion of impact test standards

  3. Changes to abrasion testing

  4. Updates to the glove marking system

EN 388 is the European standard used to evaluate mechanical risks for hand protection, but more than that, to be legally sold in Europe, a glove has to be EN 388 certified. Gloves with an EN 388 rating must be third-party tested and can be rated for abrasion, cut, tear and puncture resistance.

Since the last revision to the standard, there has been a lot of technological advances in glove manufacturing. This means that highly engineered yarns featuring steel cores are common place and the current cut test methods used under this standard couldn’t accurately rate cut resistance. At the same time, gloves designed to protect against impact have become common place but a standard to assess the gloves did not exist.

Below are the major changes to the 2016 edition of the EN 388 standard:

1. ISO 13997 Cut Test for Engineered Yarns:

Under the old standard, cut resistance was measured solely using the Coup Test, that worked like this:

A rotating blade that looked like a pizza cutter moved back and forth across a test fabric until cut through was achieved.

The biggest complaint about the Coup Test was that the blade would dull during the test, causing problems when testing highly-engineered yarns that feature steel or glass strands.

Under the new standard, the Coup Test is revised to limit the number of passes the blade can make over the test fabric to 60 — whether cut through has occurred of not. If the blade makes 60 passes over the fabric, it’s then mandatory to test the glove under the ISO 13997 cut resistance test method.

The ISO 13997 cut test method is similar to ANSI/ISEA 105-2016. The most noticeable difference is that results from the ISO 13997 test will be presented in Newtons to cut instead of grams.

ISO 13997 Cut Test Steps:

  1. The glove sample is placed on a conductive strip and loaded onto the TDM-100.
  2. A straight blade is loaded into the machine.
  3. Weight is added to serve as force.
  4. The blade moves across the fabric.
  5. The blade is replaced with a new one to ensure accuracy.
  6. The sample is cut five times, each with three different loads.
  7. The distance traveled to cause cut through at various forces is recorded.
  8. The data is used to determine the load (in Newtons) required to achieve cut through.

If the ISO 13997 test is used, a letter between A and F may appear on the marking to represent cut resistance. A letter was chosen to avoid confusion with the Coup Test results.

2. Inclusion of Impact Test Standards:

Until now, a standard has not existed for impact protection, meaning a glove with this much back-of-hand protection:

STAFGFNVB | TenActiv Impact-Resistant Cut-Resistant Composite Knit Glove with Black Foam Nitrile Palms

Technically offers the same amount of protection as this glove:

MXD3O | Clutch Gear Hi-Viz Mechanics Gloves with Impact-Resistant D3O Backing

The impact test will only be included for gloves that claim specific impact-resistant properties. The marking will include a ‘P’ to indicate the glove has passed the impact test.

In 2019, a brand new standard for impact testing was released in the North American market – the ANSI/ISEA 138 standard. This standard goes beyond what is provided for in EN 388, measuring impact resistance in both the fingers and knuckles and providing three levels of impact protection classification.

For more information, please visit our Impact Resistance info page.

3. Changes to Abrasion Testing:

A new abrasive test paper will be used under the revisions to the EN 388 standard. The Martindale Abrasion Tester will remain the preferred testing machine for wear of fabrics.

Like under the old standard, samples will still be cut from the palms of gloves and subjected to rubbing against abrasive paper until a sample wears and a hole appears. Due to the new abrasive paper being used, some abrasion scores may change when a product is re-certified under the new test conditions.

4. Updates to the Glove Marking System:

To account for the new additions of the ISO 13997 test and impact test, the glove marking will now features two additional components, as seen below:

new markings to the EN 388 standards

Looking for more information on the changes to the EN 388 glove standards? Download our FREE white paper by clicking the button below:

changes to EN 388 glove standards

About Joe Geng
Vice President of Superior Glove