21 May 2021

Ultimate Guide to Safety Gloves

We have put together the ultimate guide to safety gloves. Find out everything you need to know in one place, from EN standards to selecting the right glove, we have you covered.


Safety gloves are worn in thousands of work environments across the world.

Whether you’re in construction, facilities management, rail or working on any other manual task, there’s no better way of getting the job done safely and cost-effectively than a great pair of work gloves.

Safety gloves are especially vital in any profession which involves encountering sharp equipment, extreme temperatures or highly abrasive surfaces. Today, someone somewhere will experience a tragic workplace accident that changes the way they function forever - don’t let that be you or a worker you’re responsible for. In this guide, we’ll cover the key EN glove standards, a step-by-step process of how to master glove selection, and the different categories for work safety gloves.


1. Nature of task

Every job has its own set of requirements, the tasks which will be carried out all need to be considered to ensure the correct safety gloves are selected. For example, in scaffolding, handling the poles will require a good level of abrasion and tear protection, as well as the ability to maintain a strong grip in both dry and wet weather conditions. In contrast, detailed plumbing jobs will need gloves that provide high levels of dexterity and protection against the risk of cut on sharp metal edges.

2. Working environments

Just like the nature of the task, working environments are essential to consider as these can have a huge impact on choosing the correct hand protection. Traffi has developed a simple and easy key, which has been applied to each of our gloves making it easy for you to identify which is the correct glove for your working environment.  

3. Risk assessment

Although we can give advice about suitable work gloves for certain jobs, the final selection ultimately rests with the employer / Health & Safety Manager. A thorough risk assessment should be carried out for each department leading to a specified glove to use.

Below are the 4 simple steps to conducting a risk assessment:  

  • Identify the risk
  • Measure the severity / categorise the risk
  • Manage the risk
  • Review the risk

Risk assessments should always be updated, especially if any changes are made to processes or you feel the risk assessment is outdated in any way.

4. Glove trial

Once you have been able to identify which product(s) are best suited to you, we recommend carrying out one of our free trials. No one is better placed to provide input on the effectiveness of a work glove for a certain task than those who use it every day. Inviting your workers to be a part of the decision-making process can also help promote overall buy-in to the hand protection programme. 

5. Sustainability

Gloves are a high usage, high wastage product. If you’re looking to considerably reduce your negative impact on the environment, we have a solution. We can offer you the world first carbon neutral safety glove range. What this means for you is we can deliver LXT gloves to you with a net zero carbon footprint. So, when you come to calculate your carbon footprint, we’ve already taken care of the hand protection for you! Our gloves have also proven to last far longer than competitors, resulting in less gloves going to landfill.


EN 388:2016+A1:2018

This is the updated standard for gloves protecting against mechanical risks.

EN 388 is a widely-recognised standard which safety gloves are commonly tested against across a huge range of industries. Any glove in the market which is categorised as cut-resistant should be marked to this standard. The EN 388 standard uses index values to rate the performance level of a glove in protecting the user against mechanical risks.

  • Abrasion (1-4) (Updated for 2016)
  • Coupe Blade Cut Test (1-5)
  • Tear (1-4)
  • Puncture (1-4)
  • EN ISO 13997 (A-F) (New for 2016)
  • Impact (New for 2016 )


ANSI/ISEA stands for American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association. This is a US voluntary industry consensus standard only. ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 is the latest revision which now specifies only one single cut test method can be used (ASTM F2992-15).

The cut test works exactly the same for both standards (ANSI and EN ISO 13997) but it’s the way they’re measured that differs. While the A1-A9 scale is comparable to the EN 388 A-F levels, ANSI/ISEA extends their scale by three levels to 6000 grams to report high cut materials more accurately.

CE Mark

The CE Mark assures compliance with European legislation.

The information pictogram indicates the availability of the user information, which consists of:

  • The supplier
  • Glove designation
  • Sizing
  • Applicable glove standards and ratings
  • Limitations
  • Listing of any known allergy
  • Care and cleaning instructions
  • Shelf life if under 12 months from manufacture
  • Relevant accessories
  • Special transport packaging if required


The new glove standard EN ISO 21420 has been introduced as a replacement for EN 420 and ensures the materials manufacturers of PPE use in their products do not adversely affect the health or safety of the user. It will also respond to the growing trend in standardisation to address the topic of “innocuousness” and take into consideration the requirements of the EU PPE Regulation as ISO 21420, helping to address the Essential Health and Safety aspects of Annex II. The new ISO 21420 will provide further alignment with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, legislation on hazardous substances or substances of very high concern.

Key Changes Manufacturers Need To Be Aware Of

  • Introduction of a new pictogram for electrostatic properties EN 16350
  • Removal of the protein content test in natural rubber gloves
  • Introduction of date of manufacture markings
  • Removal of minimal glove length requirements, unless required by a specific standard i.e. welding gloves
  • Other subtle changes concerning information for users, additional information on donning/doffing, product integrity checks before use

Key Requirements

  • Chromium VI content in leather should be no more than 3mg/kg (Test method EN 17075)
  • Any metallic materials that could come into contact with the skin shall not release nickel in more than 0.5ug/cm2 per week (Test method EN 1811).
  • Azo colorants which release carcinogenic amines shall not be detectable (Test method ISO 17234-1 leather or ISO 14362-1 textile).  pH value shall be between 3.5-9.5 (Test method ISO 4045 leather or ISO 3071 textile).
  • DMFa (dimethylformamide) shall not exceed 0.1% weight/weight (Test method prEN 16778).
  • The levels of performance should be based on the lowest results obtained before and after cleaning cycles (consideration of care instructions for testing).
  • For gloves worn in ATEX environments, the electrostatic properties shall be tested (Test method EN 16350)

Important Glove Marking Changes

Each protective glove shall be marked with:

  • Manufacturer’s name and postal address
  • Glove designation
  • Size designation
  • Date of manufacturing (month and year)


This test is carried out through the Martindale Abrasion Machine. A sample material is cut from the palm of the glove and fitted to a rubbing head of fixed size and weight. This is moved in an elliptical motion over a table covered with abrasion paper. The performance level of the glove is measured by the number of abrasion cycles required to ‘hole’ the material. Four samples are tested in this way, with the overall performance level decided by the lowest result.


In this test, four samples from the palm of the glove are clamped in a standard tensile strength testing machine. The jaws move apart at a speed of 100mm per minute and from this the force required to tear the sample is measured. Performance levels range from 1 (resistance of peak force between 10N and 25N) to 4 (tear strength is at least 70N). For single materials, the level is decided by the lowest result of the four tests. For multiple, unbonded layers, each layer must be tested individually and the level is based on the lowest individual result of the most tear resistant material.


Up until now, the ‘Coupe Blade Cut Test’ has been the standard test method for cut protection. A rotating circular blade moves horizontally to-and-fro across a fabric sample with a fixed force of 5 Newton’s (N) applied from above. The test ends when the blade breaks through the sample material and the result is specified as an index value. This result is determined by the cycle count needed to cut through the sample and additionally by calculating the degree of wear and tear on the blade. This represents an exposure type cut risk in the workplace.


This test consists of a compression test machine which pushes a rounded stylus 50mm (the size of a standard roofing nail) into the sample cut from the palm of the glove at a speed of 100mm per minute. From this, the maximum resistance force is recorded. Performance levels range from 1 (puncture resistance force of between 20N and 60N) to 4 (measured resistance of at least 150N). These levels are decided by the lowest of four test results.


For safety gloves created with materials designed to have a blunting effect on blades, additional cut protection tests must now be carried out and verified. Any sample fabric testing for cut resistance using the ‘Coupe Blade Cut Test’, which blunts the blade during the test, will be marked with an X and tested using the new EN ISO test. This is to ensure the degree of protection provided by the glove is as accurate as possible. The objective of this new EN ISO 13997 cut test is to determine the resistance of the safety glove by applying the sample fabric with great force in a single movement, a better representation to the pressure type cut risk experienced in the workplace. To this end, a sharp-edged blade is dragged over the sample fabric once. This allows the accurate calculation of the minimum force required to cut the sample material at a thickness of 20mm. The result is displayed in Newton’s. There are 6 cut levels identified in the new EN ISO cut method.


The EN 511 symbol displays how much protection a glove will provide against cold risks. Alongside the symbol, there will be three numbers:


The EN 407 standard measures a glove’s thermal resistance against six different tests. The results are shown on the pictogram on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 4 (highest), in the following order:


This impact test for EN388:2016 is performed according to the EN 13594 standard. To claim impact protection ‘P’ rating a glove must reduce the effect of impact (force attenuation) on the hand. Test requirement is 2.5kg striker (flat face 80 mm diameter) generating a 5 Joules energy when striking the glove. Must not transmit a force that exceeds 7kN. Test area (and claimed protective area) is over the four connected knuckle joints (metacarpo-phalangeal joints). The letter P appears in last position (6th value) to the series of EN388:2016 performance levels.


By using new and proven technologies, Traffi is at the forefront of product innovation, ensuring we offer our customers the best possible protection at the best value.


Technically engineered, highly dexterous microfoam coating combined with state-of-the-art fine gauge high performance yarn technology. Provides premium comfort, dexterity and tactility. MicroDex Nitrile:

  • Impressively fine palm dip coating which offers excellent protection against abrasion, punctures, cuts and snags.
  • Whilst not flame-resistant*, it performs well in a range of temperatures between -4�C and 149�C.
  • Great coating to provide protection against chemicals, oils, greases, & fats.
  • Delivers high comfort levels and can be used in a wide range of environments.


Dependable and reliable coating and liner technology you can count on, built on our years of expertise in the glove world.
X-Dura Nitrile:

  • Foamed nitrile gives the coating a sponge-like property, great for when in contact with smooth, oily surfaces. In effect, any surface oil is soaked up and displaced, meaning grip can be significantly improved.
  • Flat nitrile coatings provide a high level of oil and water resistance. Additionally, they offer good grip in dry conditions and solid durability with minimal micron thickness. Also can be combined as a knuckle or wrist dip first coat under a foam palm coating to provide a highly durable oil and water resistant double dip coating.


  • Seen as the ideal choice of coating for cut-resistant gloves in dry conditions.
  • Typically soft and stretchy properties allowing great flexibility.
  • Good puncture and abrasion resistance yet remaining very thin allowing optimum tactility.
  • Very resilient and durable.
  • Excellent general purpose, multi-industry coating that works particularly well for light manufacturing and small part assembly type operations.


  • Latex has very high elasticity and outstanding grip, especially when it has been processed to form a crinkled surface.
  • Crinkle surface styles not only offer great grip, but also cut and tear resilience.
  • Ideal for use in handling rough wood, boxes, cut stone, scrap metal, and concrete block
  • Good durability and strength, and is able to withstand extreme temperature.
  • The waterproof nature of latex coatings makes it suitable for handling wet machinery/ components.
  • EN 407 test requirements will apply.


Looking after your safety gloves is essential to get the best use out of your hand protection.


A daily inspection of your gloves is crucial from the first day they are removed from the packet, ensuring they are always fit for the days work. The main reason your gloves should always be closely examined before use, is to check for any manufacturing faults or damage caused in transit. For your reusable safety gloves, it is vital that you closely inspect the material of the glove, looking for any rips, tears or thinning which may suggest the glove is ‘worn out’ and no longer provides the required level of protection, with even the smallest hole potentially letting in a hazardous chemical. The inside of the glove should be examined for traces of chemicals, putty, cement etc, as these substances left in a glove for any length of time against your skin could cause you severe discomfort or even injury. It is also important that the gloves are checked each day to ensure they are intact and that there are no lose threads that could get caught in equipment.
A daily glove inspection is beneficial as it not only helps to prevent any potential injuries, but it means a reduction in the needless disposal of gloves that are still fit for purpose, saving both time and money.


It’s important to clean your re-usable gloves on a regular basis. Gloves should be turned inside out before rinsing using tepid warm water and then left to dry naturally. It’s vital that no chemicals are used when washing gloves as this could degrade the coating. All safety gloves should be inspected after washing to ensure the coating is still present and intact.
Our whole LXT glove range has been CE certified after washing. TG6240 has been certified after extended laundry testing. This ensures that the cut level E protective properties of the glove, including the touchscreen feature, continue to perform after washing. The LXT range is tested to EN388:2016 standard after washing. 


Once you have finished using a pair of gloves, you need to wipe or rinse them (particularly if handling chemicals where your gloves should be washed before they are removed). Once they have been rinsed or wiped the gloves can then be carefully removed before being placed into a suitable container. By following this simple care advice, you will ensure a reduced risk to your employees, while increasing the life of your gloves.


  • The safety glove selection process is as follows:
    1. The nature of the task (think: do we require dexterity or high abrasion etc.)
    2. Working environments (hot, cold, wet, dry)
    3. Risk assessment (this is very important as ultimately your choice of protective gloves is based on your risk assessment)
    4. Glove trial (including workers in the decision-making process is invaluable)
    5. Looking after your work gloves (inspect your gloves before you wear them)
    6. Sustainability (are you looking to reduce your negative impact on the environment)
  • There are a range of EN standards which cover a wide variety of risks.
    Try gaining an understanding of what each letter/number means and when you require the highest level of protection against a certain hazard.
  • Work gloves are designed and manufactured to suit the needs of specific tasks. Different yarns, coatings and technologies are utilised to create high-performance gloves.


We’re here to help promote buy-in to your hand protection programme. We ensure that we fully understand your needs. We offer glove audits, trials, product training, toolbox talks, free samples, glove posters, and other bespoke collateral, to help make glove selection and compliance easier. We also provide ongoing support, throughout your whole journey with us.