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Posted on the 4th, October 2017, in Best Practices,

Cut levels for hand protection. Do you understand the changes?

In 2016 significant updates were made to EN 388 and  ANSI/ISEA 105 standards to provide a more accurate and reliable assignment of cut levels for hand protection. The changes were also designed to increase harmonisation between EU/ANSI test methods and classification levels to provide a clearer basis for comparison of product performance in a global market.

EN388: 2016
Previously, EN 388:2003 classification for cut resistance relied on results obtained from carrying out the coupe test. This test uses a circular blade under a 5N load, which moves in a backward and forward motion over the sample and a ‘cut index ‘ is determined by calculating the number of cycles required to cut through the test sample.


The coupe test has proven to be unreliable for high cut resistant materials due to blunting of the blade during the test to produce inaccurate results. For this reason the test method ISO 13997:1999 was introduced. The new EN 388:2016 standard states that if when carrying out the coupe test, data is obtained which indicates blade blunting, the test method described in ISO 13997:1999 shall be carried out and used for the cut protection classification.

The   ISO 13997:1999 test is carried out on a TDM test device and uses a single straight edge blade drawn across the sample in one direction at a specified speed. Once the blade cuts through the sample the distance of blade travel is recorded. A range of loads are used throughout the test and the cutting distance against the force used (in Newtons) are plotted on a graph to determine the force required to cut through the material at 20mm of blade travel. This method is preferred for high cut resistant materials as the blade is used only once (to eliminate the impact of blade blunting) and a variety of loads can be used throughout the test instead of the fixed load of 5 Newtons applied in the coupe test.

The EN 388:2016 standard has introduced a new rating system when using the ISO 13997 method. Cut protection is defined by 6 levels indicated by a letter (A to F) rather than the previously assigned number (1 to 5). It also allows ratings to lower level results achieved on the TDM, whereas the EN 388:2003 standard only allowed for a level 4 (13 – 22N) or 5 (>22N) rating.

ANSI/ISEA 105-2016

ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 specifies the use of standard ASTM F2992M-15 as the exclusive method for determining the load (in grams) required to assign a cut resistance rating. The previous ASTM F1790-05 test method cited in the ANSI/ISEA 105-2011 standard may no longer be used or converted from to determine the new ANSI classification level. ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 also defines the use of the TDM only and has eliminated the use of the CPP test device. The move to a single machine is to reduce confusion over the test method and improve reliability and consistency of results achieved. Further changes include a higher number of tests required to report mean values, some procedural differences in blade calibration and statistical analysis of data.

A new 9 level rating scale has been established (A1-A9) compared with the 5 levels defined in ANSI/ISEA 105-2011. This new standard now addresses higher cut resistant materials and additionally gives a more accurate, better aligned and consistent test method between the ANSI/ISEA and EU standard for cut resistance. Classification levels have also been increased with lower ranges between classes to allow for more accurate identification of the PPE required for high hazard use.

EN 388: 2016 came into force 21st April 2016 and the existing directive will be withdrawn 21st April 2018 but shall apply until this date. All existing certification is valid until 21st April 2023 and carries a 5 year validity, to which products will need to be re-certified to the new regulations once their current certification expires.

The new revision also contains significant changes in the following areas:

  • Impact protection. Manufacturers have an option to design gloves to offer protection against impacts. These gloves have a letter P after their other markings to show they have been tested to section 6.6 of EN 13594:2015 and conform to Level 1, Table 7 (Protective gloves for motorcycle riders).
  • Abrasion resistance. The specification of the abrasive paper used in the abrasion resistance test has changed. This revision , along with a number of additional minor changes to test materials, means that is its possible some abrasion scores may change when a product is recertified under the new test conditions.

If you have any queries or require any clarification please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Nusafe team.

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