The standard to which chemical resistant hand protection has been updated; the previous EN374:2003 standard has been replaced by the EN374:2016 standard.
These changes will be applied in conjunction with the changes implemented by the PPE Directive, and concern the regulation of chemical resistance testing; all testing must be state of the art, and gloves must, going forward, be tested according to the requirements of EN374:2016 in order to be suitable for use in the workplace.
What Is Changing
Firstly, the number of chemicals which can be used for testing resistance has increased from 12 to 18.
The applicable chemicals are shown in the table below:
Testing methods have also experienced some technical modifications. However, the permeation rate reported will be shown in the current format to minimise confusion.
The technical changes concern:
- The collection rate of data
- Methods of reporting
In short, new testing methods will require data to be collected over a period after the glove has permeated. Likewise, a graph will be required to display the recorded findings. These changes allow the user or specifier to see how the permeated glove fares over time. For example, one glove may deteriorate very quickly after permeation, whereas another might retain integrity and a steady state for a longer period post-permeation.
What This Means In Practice
There will be changes to testing, recording of data, and the representation of glove classification to enable users to choose the PPE which is most suitable for their situation. These changes have been required because in practice, the level, type, and time of permeation are all factors which require consideration when gloves are selected for specific applications. It’s important to note that there can be as little as 1 minute between permeation times for gloves which are classified at different levels.
- Type A gloves are required pass a minimum level 2 permeation for at least 6 chemicals from table 1.
- Type B gloves are required pass a minimum level 2 permeation for at least 3 chemicals from table 1.
- Type C gloves are required pass a minimum level 1 permeation for at least 1 chemical from table 1.
- The Pictograms are used to show how the EN374 classifications have changed; the beaker containing a question mark will no longer be used.
- All chemical resistant gloves will show the fuming flask.
- The fuming flask icon will state the glove as type A, B, or C as an indicator of performance.
Examples of the pictograms are shown below:
In addition to these changes, it is now required that degradation is noted when showing permeation results. When quoting permeation results the degradation result will be shown to indicate any effect that the chemical permeation has on the physical state or condition of the glove and will be assessed by a modified version of the puncture test.
This test will be carried out after the product has been challenged by the chemical for a set period and will show as either positive if it got weaker (degraded) and negative if it gave a higher result (got harder).
The microbiology pictogram will also be changing; the EN374-2 will be replaced by EN374-5, and if the glove has passed the viral penetration test the word ‘VIRUS’ will be displayed beneath the pictogram.
Marking of a glove protecting against bacteria and fungi.
Marking of a glove protecting against viruses, bacteria and fungi.
User Orientated Changes
The changes which will be most noticeable to users are the graphical pictogram changes.
In the future users will notice more letters beneath the pictogram as well as the type A, B or C above. However chemical resistant gloves must still be chosen taking into account, the actual chemicals used and the level of protection required. The standard only requires a permeation level 2 to show the letter beneath the pictogram, but there are 6 levels so it is essential that people take this into consideration when selecting products.
For example, a type B glove which is resistant to certain specialist solvents will not necessarily offer protection against acids and alkalis. Nonetheless, the protection offered against the specialist chemicals noted will be far superior to that offered by a general chemical resistant glove.
The changes to classification and data displayed will help users or specifiers to choose gloves for specific applications which will offer adequate protection to the hazard.