EN388 glove standards are changing

Red boxing glove

As part of the PPE regulation update, the EN388 is changing. This legislation determines how a glove performs against mechanical hazards and the amendments are being made to make the tests more relevant for gloves made of highly resistant materials and for situations where there is a high risk of injury.

While tests to tear and puncture damage remain unchanged from the EN388:2016 glove regulations, the standards applied to cut and abrasion have been improved. The new regulations also include an optional test for impact on gloves which claim to protect against this.

Cut protection

The biggest changes are seen in cut protection. Previously this standard has been determined by the Coupe Test EN388 6.2 where a Circular Blade Cut Resistant Tester is used to measure the resistance. During the Coupe Test a circular blade is run backwards and forwards over the glove, stopping when the material is cut.

In the new test, the number of cycles stops at 60, regardless of whether the material has been cut. This is to mitigate the blunting of the blade which highly resistant materials frequently cause. If the blade is proven to have been blunted, an additional test is now required.

The new cut resistant test, known as TDM EN ISO 13997, uses a sharp-edged blade which is drawn across the surface of the glove, with a fresh blade used for each cut. The test measures the average load required to cut through the fabric.

The new mark of the EN388:2016 glove regulations will show a level of 1–5 for the Coupe test and a rating of A–F for the TDM test, with a level F demonstrating a higher measurement of protection than previously included in the EN388-2003.


There have been some changes to the abrasion test. The test will continue to use a sample from the palm of the glove, which is rubbed against glass paper until it causes hole to appear. However, a new paper will be used, which could mean the classification of some gloves will change.

The number of abrasions rubs before breakthrough occurs on the glove sample is used to give a number from one to four, with four being the highest classification.


While impact testing has not previously been part of the EN388 classification, it will now feature as an optional test and can be used to demonstrate specific impact resistant properties. In this test, the area of impact resistance is secured over a domed anvil and is subjected to an energy impact of 5J.

Products that fulfil the requirements of this test will be marked with a letter P to show that they offer impact resistance.

Understanding the new marking

The marking for gloves meeting the EN388 requirements will include a pictogram with a series of numbers showing the standard achieved in the abrasion, Coupe, tear and puncture tests followed by letters for the TDM and impact test with an X used if necessary to demonstrate the test was not applicable. Gloves certified under the former EN388 test will remain valid until expiry date or 21 April 2023.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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