How to select the gloves according to the physical protection performance?


The human hand is one of the most commonly used parts in daily life, so it is very important to protect hands from injury in work. As a vertically subdivided hand protection product in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) industry, gloves play an important role in protecting employees from injury.

We can easily find out from Google that there are a variety of safety gloves available on the market. Gloves have different shapes and materials. However, from so many choices, how do you know which type of industrial gloves are suitable for this kind of work?

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Therefore, here we would like to introduce how to select gloves from the physical protection level to protect the wearer from mechanical injury, such as cuts or scratches. Chemical protection will not be discussed here.

What are the physical properties of gloves?

Gloves on the market usually include fabric or cotton gloves, nitrile and latex gloves with ductility, leather gloves or gloves made of various composite materials. Because they are made of different materials, they have different physical protection properties.

What are the physical properties?

Abrasion resistance. This physical property is most commonly used in work environments that require unparalleled grip and a strong surface.

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Cut resistance. Usually gloves with this feature are made of special fabrics. It can also protect hands well in a sharp environment.

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Tear resistance. Tear resistance is usually used for latex and other ductile glove raw materials.

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Puncture resistance. The puncture resistance is usually used in the scene of sharp objects, such as handling glass residue, carrying wood by hand and so on. Sometimes fish processing gloves also need to have anti piercing function.

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Material and process affect physical properties

Fabric and cotton gloves. The fabric and cotton have good air permeability, and the gloves also act as a protective layer between the worker’s skin and the material being processed. Fabric gloves have little protection against serrated materials and scenes full of sharp piercing hazards. But they can keep hands clean at work and prevent minor scratches.

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Coated gloves. Coated gloves are generally coated with chemical paint on the palm of the fabric gloves. Including latex, nitrile rubber, polyurethane and PVC. Compared with ordinary fabric gloves, coated gloves will have better cutting resistance and puncture resistance.

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Thick industrial latex gloves. This kind of gloves has a good barrier against harmful liquids. Different from most people’s intuition, this kind of gloves can sometimes prevent puncture to a certain extent. They play an important role in the mining, construction and fish processing industries in some countries because of their role in preventing liquid infiltration.

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Leather gloves. Leather gloves have good grasping ability, fire resistance and a certain degree of sharp surface contact. They are often used for welding work, or for the work of palming over ropes.

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Kevlar and Dyneema gloves. These industrial synthetic fibers can provide five to ten times the cut protection of leather. Unlike traditional anti cutting gloves, these synthetic materials can be used to make lightweight and durable gloves. It can also be used as a lining to provide cutting resistance with other gloves.

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Aluminum plated gloves. These are one of the best gloves to wear when working at high temperatures. They are very resistant to high temperatures, which is why they are very common in welding, casting plants and laboratories.

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What is EN 388?

How can we quickly locate the performance of gloves if we want to choose the right product among a wide range of gloves? That is the EN-388 logo on the back of the gloves.

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EN 388, similar to ANSI/IEEE 105, is a European standard for assessing the risks of hand protective machinery. The performance of gloves is tested by a third party to score the abrasion resistance, tear resistance, puncture resistance and cutting resistance of gloves and identify the performance grade. 

The higher the number, the higher the grade. The first four items are 1-4, and the last item has 5 grades.

Development of EN-388

The latest version of EN 388:2016+A1:2018 was issued in December 2018 as a revision of EN 388:2016. EN 388:2016 is a major update to this standard in November 2016, replacing the previous version of EN 388:2003.

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In the revised version of EN388, some tests in the 2003 version remain unchanged, while others are improved. Keep in mind that what changes is not the performance of the gloves, but the way they are tested.

In the abrasion test, a new abrasive test paper is used, so some wear scores may change when the product is re-certified under new test conditions.

However, the most significant change relates to cutting protection, as a new category of protection has been introduced. EN 388:2003 cutting test (referred to as “coupe test”) is now supplemented by an additional EN ISO 13997:1999 test method.

EN 388:2003 does not include impact resistance tests. When gloves have impact protection according to EN 388:2016, it means that they have been tested according to EN 13594:2015 test method. The impact protection test is optional, and any gloves meeting these standards are marked with P.

Test standard of EN 388

Abrasion resistance. Under the determined pressure, wear the material with sandpaper. The protection grade of EN 388:2016 is expressed in the ratio of 1 to 4, depending on the number of turns required before holes appear on the material. The higher the value, the better the wear resistance.

Cut resistance, coup test. EN 388:2016 cutting protection has been tested. Pass the knife through the glove material until it passes through. The protection level is given by a number between 1 and 5, where 5 represents the highest cutting protection. If the material makes the knife blunt in this test, the cutting test ISO 13997 (TDM test) shall be performed;

Tear strength test. Measure the force required to tear the glove material. The degree of protection is represented by a number between 1 and 4, of which 4 represents the strongest material.

Newton 150 100 60 20 <20
Level 4 3 2 1 0

Puncture resistance. Based on the force required to pierce the material with the tip, the protection function is represented by a number between 1 and 4, where 4 represents the strongest material.

Cutting resistance, TDM test ISO 13997. If the knife becomes blunt during the coup test, this test should be carried out, and the results are given by the letters A to F, where F represents the highest protection level; If any of these letters are given, this method will determine the level of protection rather than passing the coup test.

It is suggested to use another anti cutting test for anti cutting gloves, which is applied to cutting protective gloves in EN388:2016. During the test, cutting materials will blunt the cutting knife; The knife cuts at a constant speed, but will increase the force until the cutting protective material penetrates. The protection grade is given in Newton, and the length is 20mm.

Impact protection. If the gloves have anti-collision protection, this information is given by the letter P as the sixth and last symbol. If there is no P symbol, impact protection is not required.

What industries are abrasion resistant gloves suitable for?

Abrasion resistant gloves are designed to protect workers from hand wear caused by friction in the workplace. Fabric gloves are also suitable for common wear environments.

Agriculture. In dry weather, abrasion resistant gloves such as mechanical operation and tool use in agriculture can protect hands.

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Building construction. When the construction industry is often faced with the use of tools or the transfer of objects with rough surfaces, a pair of abrasion resistant gloves is necessary. In some building construction scenes, we sometimes face a wet environment, or when the decoration materials contain liquid. The protection provided by fabric gloves may be reduced by exposure to moisture. At this time, a pair of industrial latex gloves with abrasion resistance will be more suitable than coated cotton gloves.

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Automobile assembly. Similar to logistics, warehousing, gardening and other environments, the automobile assembly industry needs to use a lot of tools or contact objects. A pair of soft wear-resistant gloves can give good consideration to both work and protection. If there is grease liquid in the working environment, it is recommended to use covered gloves or all rubber gloves to deal with it.

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What industries are cut resistant gloves suitable for?

Cut resistant gloves are highly specialized products, which are often used to protect workers from direct contact with sharp edges such as metal and glass. It is usually made of Kevlar fabric. There are also some high-strength products that are gloves made of synthetic high-performance yarn combined with stainless steel and glass fiber.

Construction industry. The construction industry is the scene where anti cutting gloves are used most. Helps to isolate sharp metal objects or glass from workers’ hands. And fabric gloves are flexible.

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Food processing industry. In some frozen meat processing plants, it can avoid the need to use cutting machines to segment frozen meat. So a pair of reliable anti cutting gloves is a reassurance for workers and business owners. If it is not a high-risk food processing scenario, it is also a good choice to use food contact latex gloves in the food processing industry.

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What industries are tear resistant gloves suitable for?

Tear resistance rating is usually the standard for checking the durability of gloves. If the gloves can not withstand the tear of slight force, it often indicates that the quality of gloves is insufficient. This kind of gloves will break after a few times of use. What’s more, it is damaged at the first use.

Generally, a qualified industrial glove can meet the basic tear resistance standard. Such gloves are suitable for a variety of use scenarios. For example, household gloves. Covered gloves for handling and tools. Leather gloves for the welding industry. Industrial latex gloves in a wet environment.

What industries are puncture resistant gloves suitable for?

EN 388 shows the puncture resistance of gloves. ASTM F2878 is most suitable for fine and sharp objects such as medical needles. EN 388:1994 – Protection against piercing threats to large objects, such as broken glass and wood chips. We only introduce the applicable industries of ordinary puncture resistant gloves.

Construction industry. Construction workers often face the challenge of sharp objects. Such as rust fragments, wood spikes, etc. For such a working environment, most people in Tongchan will choose to use covered gloves. Then, contrary to intuition, in some cold places, construction workers often use cotton gloves first, and then put a pair of long industrial latex gloves on the outside. This kind of rubber industrial gloves will also have a good protective effect against common sharp environments.

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Agriculture, forestry and fishery. This industry usually faces a sharp environment generated by natural conditions. Such as wood chips, sharp spines on the back of fish, etc. This industry often has some special rubber industrial gloves to match it. Not necessarily latex, but also gloves made of PVC rubber. These kinds of gloves can not only be waterproof and windproof, but also resist a certain degree of puncture injury.

Updated standards – what industries are impact resistant gloves suitable for?

The updated EN388 standard includes the basic impact resistance. The surface of cotton gloves is usually covered with thermoplastic rubber (TPR), which can effectively reduce the impact of some impacts on hand bones.

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This product is usually suitable for outdoor related working environments. For example, the oil and gas industry, the mining industry in a dry environment, and some manufacturing industries that need to contact heavy objects. According to the survey of OHSA, 70% of hand injuries can be avoided if appropriate safety gloves are used in a specific work environment.


Before selecting gloves, it is the fastest way to check the EN 388 protection grade marked on the package or on the back of the gloves. Although the standard has been updated, it is not mandatory in North America or some regions. So some manufacturers may choose not to change. However, no matter the new standard or the 2003 standard, as long as the appropriate grade is selected, industrial gloves suitable for the working environment can be basically selected.

Purchase from reliable glove manufacturers

Sunny Bryant Industrial is a manufacturer of industrial rubber gloves with 30 years of experience. At the same time, it also has a profound accumulation in the PPE industry. Please contact us and let us provide you with industrial gloves that meet your needs.