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Time : 2021-09-10 Hits : 116

Hands are vulnerable to a multitude of hazards in the workplace, including a number of mechanical risks. Whether handling small parts, carrying out demolition, working with glass or many other tasks, there are a huge number of workers at risk of sustaining injuries through cuts and lacerations to their hands. This is why it’s important to identify and provide the most appropriate safety gloves for the specific task.

In order to help users and safety managers determine the protection level of a pair of gloves.The EN388: 2016 superseded the previous the old EN 388: 2003 standards intended to provide safety managers and PPE purchasers with a more accurate and reliable global cut rating system for working hands.

What is EN 388:2016+A1:2018?

EN388 is the European safety standard for protective gloves against mechanical risks, which has been updated a number of times over the years. EN388:2003 Protective Gloves Against Mechanical Risk is the globally recognized standard for protective gloves against mechanical risksThe most recent version EN 388:2016+A1:2018 was a major update published as an amendment to EN 388:2016 in December 2018.

EN388:2003 imageEN388:2016


EN388:2016 released in November 2016 has replaced En388:2003 in Europe. Testings on resistance to abrasion, tear and puncture are carried out as they were before.The test results correspond the same way they did in the 2003 version with ratings of 0-4, with 4 being the highest performance level.

The main difference in the 2016 edition is in relation to cut resistance and impact protection. The new version now has two cut resistant methods:

1. Existing Method - (Coup method)

Under the EN 388 glove standard, introduced in 2003, cut resistance is measured with a Coup test machine. A section of fabric is placed in a holder and a rotating circular blade is moved back and forth at a constant speed, pressing down with a force of 5 Newtons. When the blade cuts through, a performance rating from 1 to 5 is calculated from the total distance of travel.This test method remains in the 2016 version but is only to be used for materials that do not affect the sharpness of the blade.

2. New Method - EN ISO 13997 (TDM method)

TDM is an abbreviation for the equipment used to conduct this test, a tomodynamometer. This test involves a straight blade being drawn across the sample in one movement, with a new blade every time. The 'stroke length' before cut-through is recorded for a range of forces and graphs plotted to predict the force required to cut through the glove in 20mm of travel. This force is used to calculate a score from A to F, with F being the highest rating.


Pay attention that

Until 2023, products tested according to EN 388:2003 are still valid, hence many safety gloves available today are still certified to the 2003 version. This doesn’t mean these gloves are inferior, but in time they will be re-tested to EN 388:2016 under the new testing methods.


How the safety gloves are tested

EN 388:2016 uses index values to rate the performance of a glove when protecting against various mechanical risks. These include abrasion, blade cut, tear, puncture and impact.

imageAbrasion resistance

The first number in the code under the EN388 pictogram relates to abrasion resistance. The material of the gloves is subjected to abrasion by sandpaper under a determined amount of pressure.

The protection level is indicated on a scale of 1 to 4 depending on the number of turns until a hole appears in the material. The higher the number, the better the resistance to abrasion.


imageCut resistance (Coupe Test)

The second number relates to cut resistance according to the coupe test. This involves a rotating circular blade moving horizontally to-and-fro across a fabric sample, with a fixed force of 5 Newtons applied from above. The test is completed when the blade has broken through the sample material and the result is then specified as an index value. This result is determined by the cycle count needed to cut through the sample and additionally by calculating the degree of wear and tear on the blade.

The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 and 5, where 5 indicates the highest level of cut protection.

However, as mentioned previously, if the material blunts the blade during the coupe test then the cut test from EN ISO 13997 (TDM test) shall be performed. This is to ensure the protection performance value of the glove is as accurate as possible. If blunting does occur during the coupe test, the results of the TDM cut test will be the default marking shown on the glove, and the coupe test value will be marked as X.


imageTear resistance

The third number relates to tear resistance. The test involves finding the force required to tear the glove material apart. 

The protection function is indicated by a number between 1 and 4, where 4 indicates the strongest material.


imagePuncture resistance

The fourth number relates to the glovespuncture resistance. The result is based on the amount of force required to puncture the material with a tip.

The protection level is indicated by a number between 1 and 4, where 4 indicates the strongest material.


imageCut resistance (EN ISO 13997)

The first letter (fifth character) relates to the cut protection according to the EN ISO 13997 TDM test method. The objective of this new test is to determine the resistance of the safety gloves by applying great force to the sample fabric in a single movement, rather than in continuous circular movements like in the coupe test.

A knife cuts with constant speed but increasing force until it breaks through the material. This method allows for an accurate calculation of the minimum force required to cut the sample material at a thickness of 20mm.

Products that performed well under the EN 388:2003 coupe test may not necessarily perform as well under the TDM test. While the coupe test offers an effective representation for cuts caused by sharp, fairly lightweight objects, the TDM test gives a more accurate specification in terms of cut resistance during work which includes different impact-based hazards.

The result is given by a letter from A to F, where F indicates the highest level of protection. If any of these letters are given, this method determines the protection level and the coupe test value will be marked with X.


imageImpact protection (EN 13594)

The second letter relates to impact protection, which is an optional test depending on whether it is relevant to the purpose of the gloves. If the glove has been tested for impact protection this information is given by the letter P as the 6th and last sign. If there is no P then no impact protection is claimed.

The test is based on the mean transmitted force of the material and is carried out in accordance with part 6.9 (impact attenuation) of EN 13594:2015 Protective Gloves for Motorcycle Riders.


How to choose the right safety glove for your task

The EN 388:2016 standard helps you to identify which gloves have the appropriate level ofprotection against the mechanical risks in your work environment. For example, construction workers may encounter abrasion hazards regularly and metal fabrication workers may require protection against cutting tools and sharp edges. From cut resistant gloves to specialist protection gloves, there are a number of products available to suit these different needs.


Workers may need to maintain tactility, dexterity and grip, or perhaps protect against harmful chemicals. For this reason, it is best to look for multi-purpose safety gloves that meet a range of protection requirements.


You should also ensure that gloves offer a high level of comfort and support for all-day wear, as well as breathability and features that reduce hand fatigue and the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

EN 388:2016+A1:2018 is the key accreditation to look out for when making this decision. That’s why we have created this guide to help you determine the performance level you can expect from gloves tested to this standard.

An Overview of the cut resistant gloves offered by SKY SAFETY


Find out more about this topic and discover our current range of cut-protective gloves here: