What You Need to Know About CE Glove Standards

What You Need to Know About CE Glove Standards

Standardized testing insures PPE providers correctly classify their products and are not overstating product features and performance. When it comes to testing standards for hand protection, there are two bodies that perform rigorous material testing in accordance to industry standards.

  • The CE marking can be described as an official seal of approval to sell within the European Union. The CE mark of approval makes a statement to consumers, safety professionals, and purchasers that the product meets safety and consumer PPE requirements.
  • ANSI or American National Standards Institute for hand protection, assists safety managers and employers purchase the appropriate hand protection for workplace hazards based on various physical testing standards for PPE.

Now, unlike CE standards in the European Union, ANSI testing certification is not a consumer requirement in the United States. In fact, many safety professionals in the US look to CE testing standards when making PPE purchasing decisions. At Mechanix Wear® we believe small advancements yield big outcomes and there’s no doubt specialized hand protection is leading the way to safer working environments. Since the development of our classic Original® mechanics work glove, our focus on innovative protective features and transparent testing and certification standards has led to an extensive line of performance based hand protection. For every design there’s an end user in mind and it’s important glove manufacturers test their products independently to ensure the end user receives a quality product that is true to its claims.

CE – European Conformity

When deciding whether a work glove is safe and fit for a specific purpose or environment, it is important to identify all of the present hazards to make the best glove decision. It is common practice for many health and safety professionals to look to standard physical tests for approval. The most well known CE standards are:

  • EN388 – Mechanical Properties Test
  • EN420 - General Glove Requirements Test

But, there are a number of CE glove standards for specialized hand protection such as:

  • EN 407 - Heat and flame
  • EN 374 - Chemical and Microbiological
  • EN 6093 – High Voltage

EN 388 - Mechanical Risks

When it comes to mechanical risks for general industrial applications, the EN 388 CE standard comprises of four main physical tests to measure the resistance of the palm area to:

  • Abrasion
  • Blade Cut
  • Tearing
  • Puncture

Each test produces a performance rating based on five performance levels. This allows the wearer or health and safety professional to choose a glove with a numerical performance level fit for the identifiable workplace hazards. For example, a glove with a CE Level 4 abrasion rating is generally required for abrasive material handling and heavy equipment operation. A CE Level 5 cut rating indicates high blade cut resistance for handling sheet metal, glass and other sharp materials. The higher the number rating, the greater level of protection provided, fairly simple.

EN 388 - Abrasion Test

Samples are cut from the palm and rubbed against abrasive paper using an abrasion machine. The number of cycles for the samples to hole is measured. Four performance levels are defined ranging from level 1 = holing > 100 cycles to Level 4 = holing > 8000 cycles.

EN 388 - Blade Cut Test

Samples are taken from the palm and the number of cycles to cut through the full test sample by a circular rotating blade is recorded. Blade sharpness will vary and is assessed using a standard reference fabric. The cut resistance of the glove is based on a relative index. Five performance levels are defined in EN 388 ranging from level 1 = Cut index > 1.2 to Level 5 = Cut index > 20.

EN 388 - Tear Test

Rectangular type samples are taken from the palm and are torn apart using a standard tensile test machine. Four performance levels are defined in EN 388 ranging from level 1 = tear strength > 10 N to Level 4 = tear strength > 75 N.

EN 388 - Puncture Test

Samples are taken from the palm and the force required to penetrate the sample with a defined stylus is measured using a tensile test machine. Four performance levels are defined in EN 388 ranging from level 1 = Puncture force > 20 N to Level 4 = Puncture force > 150 N.

EN420 - General Glove Requirements Test

The EN 420 CE standard ensure that gloves do not cause harm to the end user. Such tests and requirements include:

  • pH value + water vapor transmission and absorption of materials
  • Chrome Vi content of leather

The pH value for both leathers and textiles on a glove shall be greater than 3.5 and less than 9.5.Test samples are taken from the palm and any additional materials are tested separately. The test sample is extracted in water by mechanical shaking and the solvent extract is then slowly poured and the pH value is determined by a pH meter.If an excessive amount of acid or alkali is in the material it indicates poor process control. A high pH value has also been linked to skin dermatitis.

Chrome Vi is a restricted substance and known allergen. Each type of material on a glove is tested seperately and must comply with the requirement of less than 3mg of chromium Vi. The soluble chromium Vi is drained from the leather in a phosphate buffer and the chromium Vi in the extract is then oxidized to product a violet color, which is then quantified by a UV device for measuring the intensity of light.

EN420 - General Glove Requirements Test

EN 420 also examines the overall fit and feel of a glove by testing the:

  • Sizing / Length
  • Finger Dexterity

The length of the glove is measured by suspending it from the middle finger and then recorded to ensure consistency in sizing. EN 420 includes a list of minimum lengths for each glove size. Gloves that are indicated to have a special fit for a special purpose are permitted as long as the manufacturer can demonstrate the intent. Overall glove sizing and dexterity is also tested. Gloves are fitted on the appropriate hand size and the wearer will then try to pick up pins of varying sizes to measure the amount of dexterity. There are five pins ranging from 5mm to 11mm in diameter. The smaller the diameter - the greater the dexterity result.

*SATRA Technology Center