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Hand protection: understanding EN 388 Protective Gloves against Mechanical Risks

Hand protection: understanding EN 388 Protective Gloves against Mechanical Risks

When you’re buying safety gloves that protect against mechanical risks for employees at your company, it’s your responsibility to make sure that they have the right ones. This means understanding the EN 388 safety standard. The following is designed to help you do this.

Safety gloves that carry the EN 388 symbol protect hands against mechanical risks, including those associated with the handling of rough or sharp objects that could harm skin, such as glass, thin metal sheet and masonry blocks. The gloves are resistant to abrasion, cuts, tears and punctures.

A lot of commonly used gloves are included in this category, from cut-resistant gloves and fine handling gloves to grip gloves. As a result, EN 388 is one of the most important and widely used safety standards for protective gloves. It is an independent safety assessment and has been updated on a number of occasions. The most recent version is EN 388: 2016+A1:2018.
ENISO374-1:2016/Type A JKLM

EN 388 safety standard for gloves explained

Safety gloves that provide this type of protection for wearers carry the unique EN 388 symbol, which is accompanied by a series of numbers and letters beneath it. These numbers and letters convey the type and level of protection that the gloves provide. You should always base your choice of safety gloves on the most severe hazard that your employees will face.

A safety glove that carries the EN 388 symbol will feature four numbers and two letters. They are positioned below the symbol and each one relates to information on the type and level of protection provided by the glove. This is an example of what you can expect to see and what the numbers and letters refer to:
EN388

What the numbers and letters on the EN 388 symbol mean

The numbers on the EN 388 symbol signify the performance of the glove in tests relating to resistance to abrasions, cuts, tears and punctures. Abrasion, tear and puncture resistance is rated from 1 to 4 – the higher the number, the more resistance the glove provides. Cut resistance is rated from 1 to 5 on the same basis. This cut test is the Coup Test, a long-standing means of elevating cut resistance.

The Coup Test is complemented by a second cut test, the TDM-100 test. The TDM-100 test is a more comprehensive test of cut resistance. The result of this test is shown by the first letter that appears under the symbol. The letters range from A to F, with F the highest level of protection.

The second letter below the EN 388 symbol relates to an impact-protection test. This is used to test safety gloves for protection against impact. A glove shows either a P, for passed, or F, for failed. If a glove does not provide this type of protection, it is given an X, for not tested.

Notably, safety gloves often feature more than one safety standard symbol. For more information on EN 388 and the other safety glove standards, including an explanation of the standards and advice on which protective gloves to purchase for which purposes, download your free copy of the Contego Safety Solutions Buying Guide to Gloves.

Why making the right choice of safety gloves is critical

Hands are vulnerable to many types of mechanical risks in the workplace. Failure to provide the appropriate safety gloves can lead to serious injuries or skin conditions, and have severe consequences for your company. Therefore, it is critical that you choose the right ones.

By making sure you do this, you are providing your employees with the protection they need to help them do their jobs safely, efficiently and to the highest standard. You are also ensuring that your company is fully compliant with the relevant industry standards and better protected against any liability.

Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.

The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or sales@contegosafety.co.uk to discuss your requirements.