Glove Standards and What They Mean

What are EN glove standards?

Before we go any further though, we should clarify the difference between European standards (EN) and Australian/New Zealand occupational standards. The A/NZ standards were created off the back of the European ones, so in the main they are identical. There are a couple of discrepancies to watch out for however (i.e. the testing methods for EN511 & AS/NZS 2161.5:1998 are different).



EN 420 (AS/NZS 2161.2:1998) – General requirements for protective gloves
EN 388 (AS/NZS 2161.3:1998) – Protection against mechanical risks
EN 374 (ANS/NZS 2161.10:2005) – Protection against chemicals & micro-organisms
EN407 (ANS/NZS 2161.4:1999) – Protection against heat
EN511 (AS/NZS 2161.5:1998) – Standard for protection against cold
EN 421 (AS/NZS 2161.1:2005) – Protection against radioactive contamination & ionising radiation
EN 12477 – Protection against the risks of welding


How to read an EN standard symbol

Each requirement, such as mechanical risk shown in image , is represented by a symbol and a series of numbers beneath it. Each number refers to a different aspect the glove’s performance in the laboratory tests, for example in EN388 standards like the one in image, the second digit (5 in this case) will always refer to cut level. Put simply, the higher the number, the higher the level of protection. If there is an X in the place of a number, it means this performance metric was not tested or the glove failed to register a score for that metric. 


EN 420

General Requirements for Protective Gloves

Relevant Australian Standard: AS/NZS 2161.2:1998

This standard defines the general requirements for glove design and construction, innocuousness, comfort and efficiency, marking and information applicable to all protective gloves. This standard can also apply to arm guards. A glove is an item of personal protective equipment which protects the hand or any part of the hand from hazards. It may also cover part of the forearm and arm.

Glove construction and design:
Gloves have to offer the greatest possible degree of protection in the foreseeable conditions of end use
When seams are included, the strength of these seams should not reduce the overall performance of the glove


EN 12477

Protective Gloves Against Manual Metal Welding

This International Standard describes the design specifications for gloves that provide hand and wrist protection for welding and for similar work and should be referred to in conjunction with EN 388 and EN 407. This standard is applicable only in combination with EN 420, excluding that standard’s specifications concerning minimum glove length. Welding gloves must provide protection against mechanical hazards as well as small splashes of molten metal, short contact exposure to limited flame, short exposure to convective heat, against UV radiant heat from arc and against contact heat.

According to their comparative performance levels, protective gloves for welders are divided into two categories:
Type A = gloves that provide a high degree of protection against heat but are less flexible
Type B = gloves that provide a lower degree of protection against heat but are more flexible
Marking conforms to specifications in EN 420 and to the pictograms in EN 388 and EN 407.


EN 374

Gloves Giving Protection from Chemicals and Micro-Organisms

Relevant Australian Standard: AS/NZS 2161.10:2005

This standard specifies the capability of gloves to protect the user against chemicals and/or micro-organisms. The ‘chemical resistant’ glove pictogram must be accompanied by a minimum three digit code. This code refers to the code letters of the chemicals (from a list of 12 standard defined chemicals), for which a breakthrough time of at least 30 minutes has been obtained.

Each chemical tested is classified in terms of breakthrough time (performance level 0 to 6).

The ‘low chemical resistant’ or ‘waterproof’ glove pictogram is to be used for those gloves that do not achieve a breakthrough time of at least 30 minutes against at least three chemicals from the defined list, but which comply with the penetration test.

The ‘micro-organism’ pictogram is to be used when the glove conforms to at least a performance level 2 for the penetration test.

EN 388

Gloves Giving Protection from Mechanical Risks

Relevant Australian standard: AS/NZS 2161.3:1998

This standard applies to all kinds of protective gloves in respect of physical and mechanical aggressions caused by abrasion, blade cut, puncture and tearing. Protection against mechanical hazards is expressed by a pictogram followed by four numbers (performance levels), each representing test performance against a specific hazard. The ‘mechanical risks’ pictogram is accompanied by a four digit code:

A. Abrasion Resistance
Based on the number of cycles required to abrade through the sample glove.

B. Blade Cut Resistance
Based on the number of cycles required to cut through the sample at a constant speed.

C. Tear Resistance
Based on the amount of force required to tear the sample.

D. Puncture Resistance
Based on the amount of force required to pierce the sample with a standard-sized point.

In all cases above, 0 indicates the lowest level of performance. These performance levels must be prominently displayed alongside the pictogram on the gloves and on the packaging which immediately contains the gloves.


EN 407

Gloves Giving Protection From Heat

Relevant Australian Standard: AS/NZS 2161.4:1999

This standard specifies thermal performance for protective gloves against heat and/or fire. The nature and degree of protection is shown by a pictogram followed by a series of six performance levels, relating to specific protective qualities.

Gloves must achieve at least performance level 1 for abrasion and tear.

EN 511

Gloves Giving Protection From Cold

Relevant Australian Standard: AS/NZS 2161.5:1998

This standard applies to any gloves to protect the hands against convective and contact cold down to -50 °C. Protection against cold is expressed by a pictogram followed by a series of three performance levels, relating to specific protective qualities.

All gloves must achieve at least performance level 1 for abrasion and tear

EN 421

Gloves Giving Protection from Radioactive Contamination & Ionising Radiation

Relevant Australian Standard: AS/NZS 2161.10:2005

To protect from radioactive contamination, the glove has to be liquid proof and needs to pass the penetration test defined in EN374. For gloves used in containment enclosures, the glove shall pass in addition a specific air pressure leak test. Materials may be modelled by their behaviour to ozone cracking. This test is optional and can be used as an aid to selecting gloves.

To protect from ionising radiation, the glove has to contain a certain amount of lead or equivalent metal, quoted as lead equivalence. This lead equivalence must be marked on each glove.