Khas Industries

Understanding Glove Safety

TESTING GLOVE SAFETY: (MECHANICAL SAFETY)

Many people often wonder whether their gloves will actually perform as advertised.

A quick check to see whether these gloves have passed different chemical and mechanical tests and how safe they are from different types of risks including cuts, punctures, tears and abrasions is to see whether they include either ANSI or EN markings.

One of the global benchmarks used to evaluate glove safety is the EN388:2016 standard which evaluates the protection level provided by gloves against mechanical risks. This is a quick guide to illustrate the different tests conducted by the EN388 standard and how those tests are evaluated so that you can make the best possible decision when purchasing protective gloves.

The EN 388 standard is denoted by a shield as depicted in the picture below followed by a set of numbers. Each number denotes a specific mechanical standard. From left to right, the tests conducted are explained below:

1) ABRASION RESISTANCE:

WHAT IS IT:

In simple terms, abrasion refers to how any material wears away as a result of scraping or rubbing. Abrasion resistance measures how quickly the material fades away as a result of rubbing.

TEST:

This test is conducted by rubbing the glove material against sandpaper under various amounts of pressure and then seeing how it holds up. The rating is given from 0-4 with 4 being the highest abrasion resistance. Multiple samples are utilized and the lowest rating is considered the conclusive one. For gloves with multiple layers, each layer is tested separately and the lowest rating of the most abrasion resistance material is utilized.

HOW IT APPLIES TO YOU:

If you work in an industry where you come up against many rough surfaces regularly then you need gloves with a good abrasion resistance. Common industrial applications include box handling, freight handling and construction. Cow grain leather gloves are a common choice for those looking for abrasion resistant gloves.

2) CUT RESISTANCE (COUPE TEST):

WHAT IS IT:

Cut resistance is the ability of a material to withstand damage from sharp objects like knives and razor blades under different levels of pressure. Cuts cannot be stopped entirely but can be minimized by using the right level of cut resistance glove for your specific purpose.

COUPE TEST:

A sample is taken from the palm of a glove and then a rotating blade is moved horizontally at a fixed amount of force across the glove and keeps going back and forth until it cuts through the glove. The number of cycles(moving back and forth horizontally) determines the cut resistance rating which is rated between 1-5 with 5 being the highest. If the blade is dulled during this test, the TDM test is used to determine the cut rating.

HOW IT APPLIES TO YOU:

Industries commonly needing good cut resistance gloves include food processing, metal cutting and sheet metal handling. Naturally occurring materials like leather do not offer great cut resistance so look for gloves that have cut resistant liners like Kevlar to get maximum protection from cuts and lacerations.

3) TEAR STRENGTH:

WHAT IS IT:

Tear strength is the ability of a glove to resist being torn apart. Essentially consider pulling the glove from two different sides and the force that is needed to separate the two would be the tear strength of the glove.

TEST:

A sample of the glove material is inserted into the jaws of a strength testing machine which then pulls the material apart until it breaks. The force needed to pull it apart is measured as its tear strength. It is rated between 1-4 with 4 being the highest. Multiple samples are utilized and the lowest rating is considered the conclusive one. For gloves with multiple layers, each layer is tested separately and the lowest rating of the most tear resistant material is utilized.

HOW IT APPLIES TO YOU:

Goatskin leather gloves have the highest tear strength amongst leather gloves of all types. If you work in industries like farming and ranching goatskin leather gloves can be a good choice due to their high tear strength.

4) PUNCTURE RESISTANCE:

WHAT IS IT?

Puncture resistance is the ability to withstand force from objects with a pointed tip.

TEST:

A needle with a diameter of 4.5 mm is used to break through the material until it punctures and the force needed to break through gives the puncture resistance of the material.It is rated between 1-4 with 4 being the highest. For those gloves with multiple materials, the glove is assembled as it would be in reality and punctured on 4 different occasions. The lowest rating obtained would be the puncture resistance of the glove.

HOW IT APPLIES TO YOU:

If you work in manufacturing, construction or ambulatory healthcare you will need gloves with a good puncture resistance rating to provide maximum protection to your hands. Note the EN 388 standard does not test hypodermic needle penetration so if you work in industries with objects that have similar penetration levels, you may need to consider other standards namely ANSI’s puncture resistance level to get the right glove for you.

5) CUT RESISTANCE (TDM TEST)

Same as number 2 but a different test is conducted.

TEST:

Instead of using a rotating blade to go back and forth at a fixed force, this test uses a TDM or tomodynamometer to increase the force applied to a material to determine how much force is needed to cut through it. The rating for this test is between A-F with F being the highest.

6) IMPACT PROTECTION:

WHAT IS IT?

Impact protection reflects the glove’s ability to withstand force from falling objects and crush hazards.

TEST:

The glove is cut open and is struck from above with an anvil at a speed that ensures that energy transmitted during the striking process is 5J. Depending on whether or not the glove achieves a certain level of transmitted force, it either passes or fails the test. This is denoted by a P if passed or F if failed. If no test is conducted an X is denoted.

HOW IT APPLIES TO YOU:

Impact protection gloves are important in industries where falling objects and crush hazards exist such as construction sites and rig site clearing. Typically look for TPR or thermo-plastic rubber on the back of the hand for gloves offering impact protection.

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