Level 5, cut C, A3...WTF?! If you’re confused about cut standards, take a number, friendo – you’re not the only one. Luckily, we have an all-access pass to some of the foremost safety nerds around, so how ‘bout we dive into this dumbfounding domain of cut-resistance standards and decode it together, shall we?
WHAT ARE THE CUT-RESISTANT GLOVE STANDARDS?
There are two major global standards used to evaluate the protection levels of work gloves: ANSI/ISEA 105 (U.S. Standard) and EN 388 (EU Standard). (It should be noted that EN 388 is also commonly cited in other parts of the world such as Canada, AUS/NZ and South America.) In 2015-2016, significant changes were made to both to ensure consistency between different standards, reduce the gaps between protection levels and to keep up with super-duper-space-age yarns and materials.
BOTH ANSI 105 & EN 388 TEST GLOVES FOR THE FOLLOWING RISKS:
- = Abrasion Resistance
- = Cut Resistance
- = Tear Resistance
- = Puncture Resistance
While all of these are important, cut is, indeed, king. And ANSI/ISEA 105 and EN 388 specify certain tests that measure the force it takes for a blade to cut through a material.
ANSI/ISEA 105 TESTING
- Test used: ASTM F2292-15
- What test does: A machine known as a tomodynamometer, or TDM, pulls a blade in 20mm paths across a glove’s surface under varied gram loads and measures the weight needed to cut through. The sample is cut five times with three different loads and an average is calculated, resulting in a cut score of A1-A9.
Here’s an absolutely riveting clip of that machine in action. Get your popcorn. It’s a thriller.
EN 388 TESTING
- Test used: Coupe; ISO 13997
- What test does:
- Coupe: Test material is placed beneath a rotating blade under a fixed weight, resulting in a cut score 1-5. The problem with the Coupe Test is that the blade will dull if it is on highly cut-resistant material. A dull blade can lead to inaccurate scores. This led to the introduction of the TDM-100 machine to the European standard, too.
- ISO 13997: Using the same TDM-100 machine from ANSI testing, ISO 13997 is used to give more accurate scores for higher cut-resistant materials. The Coupe Test is still used for lower cut-resistant materials, but if the Coupe Test results in a level 3-5, the ISO 13997 test is required. The ISO test will result in a score measured in newtons from A-F. (See the infographic below for more clarification.)
Here’s what that Coupe Test looks like, btw:
INFOGRAPHIC: ANSI/ISEA 105 AND EN 388
SO IS ONE TEST BETTER THAN THE OTHER?
There was a time when the ANSI standard may have been preferred because its testing method was more accurate and straightforward. ANSI/ISEA 105 may still be more straightforward, but since the changes to the standards in 2016, ASTM & ISO Cut Tests (both of which use the TDM-100) now allow for a more accurate comparison of a glove’s level of cut resistance when tested to either global standard. Though that doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable.
SIDE BY SIDE: ANSI/ISEA 105 VS. EN 388
Click the image below to get a detailed look at the standards, compare testing methods and ratings, and to find out what cut level is right for your application.
GLOVE LABELING: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
So once all the testing is done, a score is given and the glove is made, how do you identify the right glove for the right job? Here’s your quick guide to translating what the cuss all those symbols, letters and numbers actually mean.
WHAT CUT-RESISTANT GLOVES DO I NEED? A QUICK GUIDE
With so many options it can be hard to find the right one for your job. And since so many hand injuries occur as a result of matching the wrong glove to the application – or just simply not wearing them at all – it’s important to make sense of your choices.
UNDERSTANDING GLOVE MATERIALS
What are your gloves are made of? Materials make the difference – in terms of comfort and protection. If the gloves you’re wearing are itchy, hot, uncomfortable or don’t breathe, you’re not going to want to wear them for an entire shift, and then what’s the point?
There are a wide variety of cut-resistant materials on the marketplace today. Some gloves are made with para-aramid materials like Kevlar, others get their cut-resistant properties from a high-performance polyethylene (HPPE) or PVA yarns, while some are made from fiberglass or steel fiber-reinforced materials.
For knit gloves - TenaLux™ yarn is a newcomer to the knit gloves marketplace and it’s incredibly breathable and even feels cool to the touch when worn. This new fiber also offers ANSI cut level 4 protection without the irritating fiberglass or steel fibers of other traditional cut-protective gloves.
Another benefit of TenaLux™ is its lightweight feel. The lighter-weight yarn is tightly woven for dexterity and breathability. Many puncture-resistant gloves on the market today are protective but feel bulky, cumbersome and hot, whereas TenaLux™ offers flexibility and dexterity for the job at hand with cool-to-the-touch comfort.
For cut-and-sew gloves – Armortex® is another cut-resistant material option combining Kevlar® and polyethylene (PE) fibers. A common complaint among cut-resistant cut-and-sew gloves is a loss of dexterity, but when Amortex® is combined with ballistic nylon or leather, it provides a durable, comfortable and super-protective glove that helps you maintain tactile control.
CHOOSING YOUR GRIP
If you’re working in wet or oily applications, having a firm grip on the situation is important. This is where a lot of gloves fall short. Most gloves promise great grip but fail when they get wet or come in contact with oil. Look for knit dipped gloves with a new-to-market WSX™ dip technology. WSX™ is an innovative multi-layer dip that absorbs, then disperses oil from the surface of the glove for a slip-resistant grip even when oily. The multiple layers of this dip also allow air to flow through and moisture to escape for dry comfortable hands until it’s time to punch out.
In dry conditions, if you’re using a knit glove, look for DSX™ technology. This special grip technology is an abrasion-resistant multi-layer dip that allows air to flow through to keep hands comfortable and dry. The top layer dip has a highly abrasion-resistant coating for durability and longer life. In non-knit gloves, synthetic leather palms provide strength and durability for handling highly abrasive or rough materials.
BEST GLOVES FOR ALL-PURPOSE GRIP
Glove: ProFlex® 7022 Nitrile-Coated Cut-Resistant Gloves
Cut Level: ANSI A2 // Low cut hazards
Industries: construction, assembly, plumbing and automotive
These gloves are incredibly versatile for dexterity and grip for a variety of applications. The DSX™ dip technology offers the best grip for dry applications (and more than holds its own on wet/oily surfaces) and its multi-layered design allows air to flow through for breathability. The 18-gauge knit construction is supremely flexible - gauge refers to the number of stitches per inch with the higher the gauge the less bulk and greater dexterity. These gloves are breathable and comfortable with an abrasion-resistant coating to stand up to rough materials and environments.
BEST GLOVES FOR WET/OILY CONDITIONS
Glove: ProFlex® 7021 Nitrile-Coated Cut-Resistant Gloves
Cut Level: ANSI A2 // Low Cut Hazards
Industries: construction, assembly, pulp and paper and material handlers
In wet or oily conditions, this pair of ProFlex® coated gloves stands out due to its WSX™ dip technology that absorbs and disperses liquid from the surface so you get a no-slip grip. Plus, like the 7022 gloves, it has the 18-gauge knit construction for flexibility and dexterity. This pair is also highly breathable for all-day comfort.
For more cut protection try:
ProFlex® 7041 Nitrile-Coated Cut-Resistant Gloves [ANSI Cut Level A4, Moderate Cut Hazards]
BEST GLOVES FOR COLD CONDITIONS
Glove: ProFlex® 814CR6 Thermal Utility + Cut Resistance Gloves
Cut Level: ANSI A6 // Moderate to High Cut Hazards
Industries: Assembly/fabrication, sheet metal, heavy construction, oil & gas, electrical, pulp & paper, service techs
For work in cold conditions, these winter work gloves have Armortex®-backed palms for ANSI/ASTM Level A6 cut protection with an insulated fill. Plus, it has reinforced palms to protect the glove in their most critical, high-wear areas.
BEST GLOVES FOR HEAVY DUTY WORK
Glove: ProFlex® 7141 Hi-Vis Nitrile-Coated Cut-Resistant Gloves
Cut Level: ANSI A4 // Moderate Cut Hazards
Industries: heavy construction, oil & gas, mining, demolition, extraction & refining, ironwork or cargo handling
These gloves feature molded TPR panels on the back of the hand and fingers for ANSI 138 level 1 back of hand protection. Plus, these knit heavy-duty work gloves are made with high-performance polyethylene (HPPE) fibers for superior A4 cut protection. HPPE doesn’t include steel or glass often used in other anti-cut gloves which can cause irritation. This specific pair also features cool-to-the-touch TenaLux™ fibers for breathability and flexibility.
The WSX™ dip on the palm and fingers makes them an excellent choice for wet and oily working conditions – but more than hold their own on dry surfaces, too. So you don’t have to sacrifice grip for overall hand protection.
BEST GLOVES FOR ALL-PURPOSE WORK
Glove: ProFlex® 7031 Nitrile-Coated Cut-Resistant Gloves
Cut Level: ANSI A3 // Low to Moderate Cut Hazards
Industries: construction, manufacturing, fabrication, service technicians and material handling
This pair of extremely tough gloves are designed to provide durability and grip in all conditions, wet or dry. The 13-gauge A3 cut protection liner is cut, puncture, and abrasion-resistant for the toughest environments. The reinforced thumb dip adds extra protection in a high-wear area. These nitrile-coated gloves also feature ANSI level 4 abrasion resistance for long wear. Plus, the 13-gauge knit construction means they’re flexible for dexterity and comfortable your whole shift through.
PICK YOUR PAIR
Browse our full line of cut-resistant gloves, all designed to defend your digits against cuts, slashes, and punctures without reducing dexterity. Don’t just trust your mitts to any old glove, find the perfect match to give your hard-working hands the very best in protection and comfort.