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January 6, 2017

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New EN Standard means improved glove testing and cut protection assessment

Arco highlights key changes in its Expert Guide: A summary of the update to the standard EN 388 Protective Gloves Against Mechanical Risks.

The most significant changes to the Standard relate to cut protection: if during the original ‘coupe’ test method the blade blunts, then an additional EN ISO test method is required.

Illustrated in the Expert Guide, Arco overviews the key changes to the Standard:


  • Abrasion Testing New abrasive test paper will be used for this method. Abrasion scores for products may change once recertified under new testing conditions.
  • Cut Protection Testing If the blade is blunted during the existing cut test, the ‘coupe test’, an additional EN ISO 13997:1999 test will be required. An additional code letter marking will be required for the added EN ISO test rating.
  • Impact Protection Testing If a glove claims impact protection the new Standard requires testing to EN 13594:2015. Gloves that meet the test criteria will be marked ‘P’.
  • Marking Certified marking on approved gloves will include two new elements: one in relation to the new EN ISO 13997:1999 cut method and the second relating to the optional impact protection test. The new European standard allows gloves to be tested against both cut protection methods and for both ratings to be shown on the glove.

Safety experts at Arco believe that the new cut test method is more appropriate for high risk cut environments, however, they consider that the changes in the new European standard could be both misleading and confusing for customers. Arco suggests if blunting occurs within the first (coupe) method and the glove has to undergo the additional ISO assessment, the original coupe test should be void and the glove marked with an X in place of the coupe rating.

In this instance the glove should only show the EN ISO 13997:1999 code letter rating. This is to remove the end user needing to read the instructions to see which rating is representative of the glove’s performance as these are not readily available at point of sale. This issue was recognized by the BSI standards committee and an additional annex was added to the British Standard which reflects this recommendation.

Neil Hewitt, Divisional Director of Quality and Technical Standards, says: “The UK annex to the standard will make end user product selection much easier as it will remove confusion and we welcome this as ultimately this will be reflected in worker safety.”

The Expert Guide is available online for Arco customers to download.

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