Upgraded Cut Resistant Glove standards 

EN 388 and ISO 13997 explained.


Final approval of the European Standards Draft proposal by the committee is expected late 2016 or early in 2017. A new Cut Resistant (further written as C.R) test method will be applied in conjunction with the existing EN388 mechanical hazards performance test. The ISO 13997 test method will be an additional C.R test using a different performance methodology for a more definitive indication of likely performance in higher range C.R material testing.

The existing EN388: 2003 and its AS/NZS2161.3: 2005 Australian Standards version on mechanical glove performance standards have given us a useful reference to select and align likely suitability of product / material performance to selected working conditions and applications. The new ISO 13997 C.R test will be an additional cut test conducted on a TDM 100 machine. This will accommodate for some of the limitations caused by the Coup Cut Test machine used for EN388 testing.

To give you reference on the test methods processes; each method results; the differences and why this is important; we will summarise both for you here. 


Starting with the EN388 Coup Test:


EN388 Coup Test is conducted with a rolling circular blade (think Pizza Cutting wheel) which rolls back and forth upon the same section of “Test sample” until cut through is achieved. A plain sample material (typically cotton canvas) is introduced to the test process to act as a “Reference sample” measurement for cutting wheel sharpness. This “Reference sample” is cut tested before and after the C.R “Test sample” to gauge the cutting wheel blade surface dullness.

From this C.R testing a material performance “Index” is recorded as a ratio of the number of cycles (passes back and forth) recorded for the “Test sample” to cut through compared with the “Reference sample”. The Coup test provides a rating of 5 various Cut Performance levels (1 being the lowest with 5 as the highest).

The testing method utilises the same downward pressure (5 Newtons), speed and surface contact length of travel on all materials tested. It is considered that higher C.R materials (containing Glass fibre or fine stainless steel filaments) will blunten the rolling circular blade edge during the duration of the test procedure.

Therefore, a somewhat questionable performance C.R variable may exist in gloves considered as Highly Cut Resistant (In particular, EN388 cut level gloves carrying a rating of 4 or 5).  These top end Index gloves are the commonly selected gloves for many when working in higher risk cut hazard environments, a different C.R test regime has been introduced to better address performance characteristics of the materials. 



The new ISO 13997 C.R test:


ISO glove material testing will be conducted on a TDM100 machine. This test uses a straight blade which is regularly calibrated and replaced every time it cuts through a sample material. To add to the improved accuracy within the testing method, the “Test sample” is placed on a convex surface. An electrical ‘contact’ circuit measures the immediate moment the blade first breaks through the Test material.  

 The distance and force required to create ‘cut through’ is recorded over 5 separate tests of the provided glove Test sample. The data provided from this comprehensive testing determines the eventual ISO 13997 performance level result. 



What will be the end result?


So, we can look forward to the EN388 Mechanical hazards standard referencing remaining as it currently stands. That is the 4 performance values of Abrasion; Cut; Tear and Puncture will remain (in that order) under the EN 388 ‘Axe Shield’ Icon. A further symbol will then be positioned beside these 4 mechanical hazard performance numerals (on the right hand side) on those gloves that have been submitted for the new ISO 13997 C.R testing.

As at this draft finalisation stage, a rating scale of A to F is looking most likely, with A being the lower C.R performance and F being the highest C.R performance.  These letters will represent the amount of pressure measured in Newtons, that is applied in downward force on the cutting blade in cutting through each glove Test sample material.

To put this into perspective, C.R performance values under the ISO 13997 will be:  

Class A: 2 Newtons   =   203 grams to Cut

Class B: 5 Newtons   =   509 grams to Cut

Class C: 10 Newtons = 1019 grams to Cut

Class D: 15 Newtons = 1529 grams to Cut

Class E: 22 Newtons = 2242 grams to Cut

Class F: 30 Newtons = 3059 grams to Cut



Glove manufacturing companies that choose to have their hand protection range retested under the ISO 13997 will be able to provide their customers with documentation providing a clearer indication of the expected C.R performance of their glove materials in both the Coup test and TDM 100 methods.

Manufacturers that do not wish to retest will be given a 5 year ‘grace’ period to move toward the transition of these new test guidelines.   

Please note that neither test method is an exact indicator of specific hand protection suitability or product performance in every individual application or circumstance. Thorough task investigation and risk assessment analysis needs to be conducted in any P.P.E selection process.