Glove Symbols

Types of Hazards:

During many tasks the hands are at significant risk of injury, therefore, the operative may be required to wear gloves as a last line of defence, after all other hazard controls have been put in place. It is generally accepted that the majority of hand injuries come from cuts and abrasions, with most of the more serious injuries being due to cuts. However, it is important that we consider the task we are completing and select the correct glove to protect us against that task’s specific hazards. To help us with this we use EN standards; which are usually printed on the back of gloves, and can also be found on packaging and product descriptions on websites. EN standards are designed to evaluate the performance of gloves material with regards to specific tests. Gloves are printed with a symbol which is then followed by a combination of numbers representing specifics regarding the level of protection they offer.

Mechanical Hazards (EN 388)

Abrasion Resistance: Under a determined pressure the material is subject to abrasion by sandpaper. High abrasion ratings are important for work in areas such as construction and gardening.

Cut Resistance (Coup Test): Based on the number of cycles required to cut the material at a constant speed. If you handle sheet metal, glass or sharp tools you should look for a glove with a high cut resistance rating. If, during this test, the blade used to cut becomes blunt, the straight blade cut resistance ISO 13997 testing method is used.

Tearing Strength: Calculated from the force required to tear the material apart. A high tear rating is related to durability, making gloves ability to withstand demanding work such as construction, landscaping and heavy handling.

Puncture Resistance: Is determined by the force required to puncture the material with a tip. Being puncture resistant gives gloves greater protection against sharp objects such as needles, thorns and syringes making gloves with a high puncture rating ideal for medical or waste work.

Straight Blade Cut Resistance ISO 13997: This cut resistance test is based on the amount of force required to achieve a cut using a straight blade and is given as a rating from A-F; with A being the lowest and F the highest.

Impact Resistance: This is an optional test based on mean transmitted force. This test is a pass or fail; therefore, if a glove meets this requirement a P is added as the last digit to the glove marking.

A blue and white table showing the different resistance and strength of categorisations of gloves.

Chemical Hazards (EN 374)

Chemical resistant gloves are categorised into three classes: Type A provides 30 minutes of breakthrough time against six test chemicals, Type B 30 minutes of breakthrough time against three test chemical, and type C 10 minutes against one test chemical. The third row in the Type A and B symbols shows the chemicals which the material has been protected against, they can be found in the table below. Chemical resistant gloves use instruction sheets which should provide information about penetration, as chemicals can penetrate through holes in the material, and degradation, which is expressed as a percentage (%). In addition to this, chemical resistant gloves may provide information about whether they protect against bacteria, fungi and viruses. In this instance, the biohazard symbol is shown on the glove with the specific micro-organism it protects against listed alongside.

Tables showing the different types of chemicals gloves can be tested against.

Thermal Hazards (EN 407)

Regarding thermal protection a symbol is shown next to 6 values, the higher the value the better the performance level against that specific parameter. The six parameters appear in the order and are as follows…

Flammability resistance: length of time the material continues to burn after ignition is removed.

Contact Heat Resistance: after exposure to 100-500°C how long it takes the glove to become 10°C higher than its start points.

Convective Heat Resistance: how long it takes to increase the inside temperature of the glove with 24°C using a controlled gas flame.

Radiant Heat Resistance:  the length of time the glove can delay the transfer of heat when exposed to a radiant heat source.

Resistance to Small Splashes of Molten Metal: number of drops of molten metal that increase temperature between glove and skin to 40°C.

Resistance to Large Quantities of Molten Metal: A PVC film is placed on the back of the glove material and this measurement assesses how many grams of molten iron is required to be poured on to damage the PVC film.

(All information correct as of 1st December 2018)