EN 388 standard – then and now


The EN388 standard categorizes the European Union's standard for materials, especially work gloves, in four categories (abrasion, cutting, tearing, and puncture). The result of this standardization, carried out by various tests, is indicated by a small hammer mark on the gloves and 4 digits and sometimes 2 additional letters below.


Are there any non-EN388 gloves?

Many gloves, such as kitchen gloves, are sometimes sold without passing the EN388 standard. However, gloves with EN388 standards must be preferred, especially for the safety of workplace workers. In most cases, the use of appropriate gloves for the work to be done is also specified in the contracts. However, there may be areas where the EN388 standard is not required. It is useful to determine them in advance.


Meaning of each sign:

Let's look at the values ​​first:

1. Abrasion: 1 - 4 points

2. Cutting (Coupe Test): between 1-5 points

3. Tearing: between 1-4 points

4. Puncture: between 1-4 points

The new generation, a.k.a EN388 - 2016 standard, also has the following two additional symbols:

1. Cut resistance (TDM-100 test); A to F

2. Impact resistance test: P (passed); F (failed); X (not tested)

Currently, the new standard is the tests adopted in 2016, but by 2023, the standards adopted in 2003 are also valid. The only difference between the two methods is new test equipment, not related to the quality and performance of the gloves.


Ranking of standards

The ranking is carried out separately for each category. Although special tests and tools are used in this task, in most cases, the following standards are used:

1. Abrasion test is where sandpaper paper rolls over the glove with a certain weight. After a certain number of turns, some holes should appear on the glove. The assessment is based on the following table:



2. Cut resistance (Coupe test)

The difference in the coupe test is that the cut is made with a circular razor. The razor rotates on the fabric with a certain weight. When an incision appears on the fabric, the test is considered complete. The table below shows the number of spins required to cut and the grading according to these spins. The highest score is "5". If the fabric is not cut after that grade then, further grading is performed by the EN ISO 13997 test.



3. Tear resistance.

This test calculates the pressure at which the material is torn. The unit of measurement here is Newton. 1 Newton is equal to 0.102 kg. Tear resistance is especially important in jobs where the hands are constantly moving. The following table shows the estimates:

Newton Honey




4. Puncture resistance

This test calculates the resistance of the material to a thin tip of a certain weight. A single hole can be one of the biggest dangers, especially when working with chemicals and sharp tips. In this case, gloves with a higher score should be chosen. As with tearing, the basic unit of measurement here is Newton. The following table shows:



A score of less than one on each of the four tests is rated "0". Gloves with a score of "0" are rare and focused on specific areas.


The difference of EN388 2016

In 2016, two new units were added to the EN388 standard. Unlike the first four, the last two are indicated by letters. The first is the cut resistance test, and the second is the new impact test.


Cut resistance (EN ISO 13997)

Unlike the Coupe test, the TDM test uses a flat razor. It is not about how fast the material is cut, but under what pressure it is cut. Based on the results, it is graded between the letters A and F.

The results of both methods are more important for certain areas. In the absence of a TDM test, the results of the Coupe test may also be used. In most cases, there is no significant difference between the results.


Impact resistance (EN 13594)

There are only two results in this new test: P (passed) and F (failed). The purpose of the test is to measure how well the material is resistant to shocks at a certain weight and speed. It is a standard required when working with vibrating tools. The results of this test are rare in the evaluation of gloves, and if the test is not performed, it is marked with an "X".


Benefits of EN 388 standard

The quickest and most convenient way to choose the right glove for each job is to look at its EN 388 standard. According to this standard, you can estimate the area of ​​use of gloves, life, frequency of renewal, etc. However, it should be kept in mind that these standards are designed for a suitable work environment and mode of use. Improper use can lead to worse results than specified in the standards.

In any case, EN 388 should be considered for the safety of workers and should be considered a standard for work and safety clothing.