Injuries due to cuts are common to those working in industries and trades that come into contact with sharp objects, materials or tools. This can lead to injuries that require medical attention such as scrapes, cuts, and lacerations.
It is important to only use cut-resistant gloves that meet certain levels of protection for the dangers presented to your hands during tasks.
Hand Protection Classifications
Hand protection classifications are arranged into three main groups:
- Mechanical protection (cut, puncture, abrasion)
- Chemical protection
- Other (heat, flame, vibration protection, dexterity, impact protection –
These are classifications cover gloves for hand protection when used for industrial and chemical applications.
Cut Resistant Glove Standards
Two testing and classification standards are primarily used to measure cut resistance: The American ANSI/ISEA 105 standard and the European EN388 or CE standard. The EN388 standard uses slightly different performance tests for cut, abrasion, tear, puncture, and impact.
ANSI / ISEA
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) offer the ANSI/ISEA 105 standard. This standard provides manufacturers with a ranking system to classify their products for specified types of glove performance.
ANSI/ISEA 105 sets rankings for glove performance based on specific resistance tests for abrasion, puncture, and cuts. Cut resistance testing is performed using the ASTM F2992-15 test method and determines a 9-level scale. This scale range was expanded in 2016 from a previous 1-5 scale to allow for more accurate rankings of PPE protection.
Glove Types Covered In The ANSI/ISEA 105 Standard
This standard is applicable to the following hand protection types:
- Partial gloves
- Other garments or items that cover the hand or a portion of the hand
Any hand protection can be ranked using this standard that is intended to meet a specific hazard related to the tests included.
Updated ANSI Standard
The ANSI range has been expanded from A1-A5 in the ISEA 2011 standard to the new A1-A9 ANSI/ISEA 2016 standard. This new rating standard makes it easier to measure higher levels of cutting force.
This standard provides performance ranges related to mechanical protection, chemical protection, and other performance characteristics, such as heat, flame, and vibration protection.
ANSI Cut Resistant Gloves Labeling
Manufacturers are not required to label cut scores on their cut-resistant gloves. However, the ANSI/ISEA 105 cut-resistant gloves will be marked on the label or glove with the ANSI/ISEA 105 standard and the TDM-100 score along with which A1-A9 level they meet. If it has a zero protection level, it offers minimal to no protection.
ANSI Cut Test Method
The ANSI/ISEA 105 is based on a specific cutting test using the ASTM F2992-15 test method which uses the TDM (Tomodynamometer) cut test machine.
This machine determines cut resistance of protective clothing materials (including gloves) from sharp edges, such as knives, glass, sheet metal, and bladed tools. This runs a straight-edge blade over the material in a one-direction path for a distance of 20mm until it cuts through.
It cuts the material 5 times (with a new blade each time) under 3 different loads which is then used to equate a cut level for that material. This cut force is recorded in grams (200g – 6000g) and used to fill out the A1-A9 ratings.
ANSI / ISEA 105-2016 Protection Levels
The A1-A9 (The letter “A” stands for ANSI) cut resistance levels for gloves are as follows:
|A1||Very minor cuts|
|A4||Moderate cut dangers|
|A5||High cut dangers|
|A6||High cut dangers|
|A7||Very high cut dangers|
|A8||Very high cut dangers|
|A9||Highest cut danger|
The cut levels as tested by the ASTM F2992-15 test method using the TDM 100 test machine are measured as a cutting force in Grams (metric weight of mass load): The letter “A” stands for ANSI:
This tests the glove material for puncture resistance from a hypodermic needle under pressure. It follows the ASTM F2878 test method and uses a 25 gauge needle. Pressure is in newtons.
This tests the glove material against chemical exposure in accordance with the ASTM F 739 method. In this test, a piece of the glove material is exposed on the “exterior” side for a certain period of time to the chemical. The “interior” side is checked during timed intervals to see whether it has been permeated.
The flame resistance of cut-resistant gloves is tested in accordance with ASTM F1358-16 which is intended to check materials that are not solely made for flame resistance.
|Level||Flame exposure times (seconds)||After-Flame time(s)|
|4||No ignition within 3 or 12-second exposure time periods|
Heat resistance of cut resistant gloves are tested in accordance with ISO 17493:2016.
Conductive Heat Resistance
Vibration reduction of cut resistant gloves are classified as “pass/fail” only. This quality is tested in accordance with ANSI S2.73-2002 / ISO 10819:2013. If passed, the glove will be categorized as an “anti-vibration glove”.
No impact resistance standard has been created for North America but is currently being considered.
Occupational Health And Safety Administration (OSHA)
OSHA provides a guide for PPE, including cut resistant gloves made of leather, metal mesh, or other types of fabrics.
OSHA does not provide a specific review or approval for cut-resistant gloves that may resist exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Determining if the cut-resistant gloves meet the OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030 “Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens” happens at the job site as reviewed by the employer or observer of the tasks the gloves are used during.
OSHA provides standard 1910.138, which requires employers to select and provide employees with appropriate hand protection against severe cuts, exposure to harmful substances, burns, and extreme temperatures.
European Cut Resistance Standards (EN, CE)
EN 420 Glove Standard
EN420 is a European PPE glove standard is a basic requirement for all types of safety gloves to meet before they can earn any other EN standard. This standard is not commonly listed on gloves because it is so basic and common sense, but it is extemely important to have.
EN 388 European Cut Standard (CE)
The European EN388 standard uses a different piece of test equipment – the Coup Test machine than the ANSI cut-resistant gloves tests. It follows the ISO 13997 cut test method. The main difference is that the coup machine uses a rotating blade rather than a straight blade. The test allows the CE rating to be applied to cut-resistant gloves so they can be sold in the EU. Recently, the also includes the ISO 13997 cut test method using the TDM-100 because it has fewer limitations.
Unlike the ANSI / ISEA rating, it reports results in newtons instead of grams. It has levels A-F that correlate to the ANSI 1-6 rating. You can see this on the EN388 badge on the product in the 5th position spot.
This A-F scale is recorded in newtons of force against the material using a rotating blade.
This standard uses the EN388 puncture probe for testing.
Dexterity is tested in accordance with EN 420.
EN Standards for Food Handling Gloves
Additional EN standards for food handling gloves exist and include the following:
ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 Is the Preferred Test Method
The ANSI/ISEA scale for cut resistant gloves is the preferred method for ranking them beacuse the EN388 does not differentiate the upper ranges of cut-resistant materials. These fall into the A7-A9 range on the ANSI levels. Because of this, it is recommended that users of cut resistant gloves check with the ANSI/ISEA standard markings before wearing gloves or any other type of PPE.
The ASTM International provides the following standards:
Food Handling Gloves
Cut Resistant Gloves
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
As mentioned earlier, this standard covers resistance to cutting by sharp objects for protective clothing:
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.