Standardized testing holds PPE providers responsible for correctly classifying product features and performance ratings to meet industry standards. The CE mark can be described as an official seal of approval to sell products within the European Union. When it comes to testing standards for hand protection, the CE mark of approval makes a statement to consumers, safety professionals, and purchasers that the product meets industry and consumer PPE requirements.
When deciding whether a work glove is safe and fit for a specific application or environment, it is important to identify the hazards and make the appropriate work glove selection based on verified performance standards:
When it comes to mechanical risks for general industrial applications, EN 388 CE standards comprise of five physical tests to measure the resistance of the palm and knuckle area to the following hazards:
Each test produces a performance rating based on progressive performance levels. This allows the wearer or health and safety professional to choose a set of gloves with a performance level rating that is recommended or mandated in the workplace. 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. Learn about the latest updates and new CE EN 388: 2016 standard here.
The number of cycles until a hole is measured classifies the gloves abrasion rating. Four performance levels are defined ranging from level 1 = holing > 100 cycles to Level 4 = holing > 8000 cycles.
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.
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.
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.
The EN 420 standard ensures gloves do not cause harm to the end user. Such tests and requirements include:
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.
EN 420 also examines the overall fit and feel of a glove by testing the following:
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.
Heat retention is crucial in cold working environments in order to prevent cold weather injuries. To counterbalance these factors, it’s important to have the properly rated insulation and protective outerwear for any given environment. The CE EN 511: 2006 ratings for cold weather gloves is assessed by testing Convective, Conductive, and Water Impermeability ratings for gloves.
EN 511 Convective Cold Test | Performance Levels 0-4
The glove sample is placed on an electrically heated mannequin hand that measures the amount of power required to maintain 30° C and 35° C in a controlled environmental chamber. The more electrical power required, the lower the thermal insulation rating of the glove.
|Performance Level||Thermal Insulation ITR in m2 K/W|
|1||0,10 ≤ ITR < 0,15|
|2||0,15 ≤ ITR < 0,22|
|3||0,22 ≤ ITR , 0,30|
|4||0,30 ≤ ITR|
EN 511 Conductive Cold Test | Performance Levels 0-4
The glove sample is placed between metal places which are at different temperatures in order to measure the temperature drop, also known as its thermal resistance.
|Performance Level||Thermal Resistance R in m2 K/W|
|1||0,025 ≤ R < 0,050|
|2||0,050 ≤ R < 0,100|
|3||0,100 ≤ R 0,150|
|4||0,150 ≤ R|
EN 511 Water Impermeability Test | Performance Level 0 or 1
The glove sample is fully submerged in water for 5 minutes to measure its permeability.