Wearing the correct glove is the most critical factor in proper hand protection. It's even more important to understand cut resistant gloves and the characteristics they hold. Cut-resistant gloves come in various fabrics offering different level of cut resistance. It's important to consider the requirements of a particular application when choosing a glove material.
EN 388 - The EN 388 is a European standard that was designed to assess the performance on abrasion resistance, tear resistance, puncture resistance and cut resistance. These standards were set using specific scientific methods. For cut resistance, the numerical ratings of 1 through 5 are decided by the number of cycles a rotating blade applied to the tested fabric needed to cut though the material. More rotations needed means a higher numerical cut resistance rating is given to the glove. Though not required in the United States, some gloves are starting to carry the same EN 388 shield and ratings.
Note: Remember to compare "apples to apples" when considering cut resistance ratings. Although EN 388 and ANSI/ISEA reach similar conclusions, they are based on different test methods resulting in different test ratings.
ASTM F-1790 - This standard measures the cut protection performance of protective apparel. This test method uses force-distance testers to determine how resistant a material is to cuts when exposed to a cutting edge under specific loads. This method provides data to differentiate the cut resistance of common material such as cotton, leather and high performance fibers. Results are provided in terms of grams of weight applied to the specific material being tested.
OSHA 1910.138 - OSHA 19.10.138(a) and 1910.138 (b) regulations do specify cut resistant levels, however the standard does pertain to hand protection.
19.10.138(a) "General requirements. Employers shall select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employees' hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes."
1910.138(b) "Selection. Employers shall base the selection of the appropriate hand protection on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use, and the hazards and potential hazards identified."
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Do cut-resistant gloves offer good puncture-resistance?
A. Many cut resistant gloves are manufactured to protect hands from being slashed by sharp objects like knives/blades. However, they may provide very little or no puncture resistance from a pointed item, such as a needle.
Q. What is the difference between puncture resistance and needle or needlestick resistance?
A. Needles are sharp, beveled cutting instruments designed to pierce the skin. To stop them you need to stop the cutting action by putting something hard in front of them, such as the protective guard plates found in SuperFabric® brand materials. ASTM/EN388 test probes are rounded and tear fabric instead of cutting as it penetrates. This rounded ASTM/EN388 tip functions more to test bust strength whereas the .25G medical needle tests true needle resistance. Various testing bodies throughout the world have acknowledged this deficiency and are adapting standards to meet this. Two examples are the Canadian research organization IRRST and the ASTM F23 Standards committee, who are working together to design a standard that uses the same test procedures as tested herein.
Q. Should cut-resistant gloves be used to protect one from cuts from powered/mechanical equipment like powered saws and drills?
A. Most all manufacturers of cut-resistant gloves will not suggest the use of cut-resistant gloves for protection against powered devices. Gloves are typically tested for use with non-powered blades and sharps only.
The use of a glove with powered equipment could potentially harm an individual. If the moving blade catches the glove, it could result in a person getting pulled into moving machinery. Moving machine parts have the potential for causing severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these needless and preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded, especially when the operation of a machine or accidental contact with it can injure the operator or others in the vicinity. These hazards must be either eliminated or controlled.
Q. What makes HexArmor products highly cut and puncture resistant?
A. HexArmor® products offer industry leading cut protection through the innovative configuration of SuperFabric® technology which provide resistance to lacerations and slashes like no other material on the market. Typical cut-resistant products are made of high performance yarns such as Kevlar®, Dyneema®, or Spectra®. While blends of these technologies protect users from straight edged cut hazards, they do not offer sufficient protection from variable hazards such as metal burrs, wires, or slivers.
Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.