The Revised EN388 Standard

The Revised EN388 Standard

Currently, the abrasion, cut, tear and puncture resistance of a glove's palm material are communicated with four corresponding numbers below the EN388 symbol.

But as we begin to roll out reusable gloves tested to the EN388:2016 standard, there a few specific changes and additions we'd like to highlight.

What's the difference you'll see? One or two letters may be added and the second of the four numbers may be replaced by an X. It all depends on the new test results.

For example:


This code describes the following:

  • 3 - score for Abrasion
  • 4 - score for Cut (using the Coup test)
  • 4 - score for Tear 
  • 3 - score for Puncture 
  • E - score for Cut (using the TDM 100 test)
  • P - passed the back of hand protection test


This code describes the following:

  • 2 - score for Abrasion
  • X - no submitted score for Cut (using the Coup test)
  • 0 - score for Tear
  • 3 - score for Puncture
  • E - score for Cut (using the TDM 100 test)


This code describes the following:

  • 2 - score for Abrasion
  • 3 - score for Cut (using the Coup test)
  • 0 - score for Tear
  • 3 - score for Puncture
  • X - no submitted score for Cut (using the TDM 100 test)

Improved accuracy in cut resistance testing

The first new letter is the biggest change. And it concerns an additional method of cut testing.

The Coup Test measures a material's cut resistance by applying 500 grams of pressure to a circular blade, which (as if cutting pizza) rolls back and forth across the glove's palm surface. When testing highly cut resistant materials, however, the blade dulls over time which can lead to inaccurate results.

Therefore, the revised standard now limits the Coup test to a maximum of 60 rotations. In the event that the blade becomes blunt or 60 rotations are performed without cutting through the material sample, then the following additional test is conducted.

This time we use the TDM 100 (as used in the ISO 13977 test method). We measure the amount of force applied to a straight blade to cut through the material with a single 20mm stroke. This resistance is communicated by the letters A to F.

Why was this change necessary?

In recent years, the hand safety industry has become increasingly aware of the EN388's limitations when testing highly cut resistant materials. To rely only on the Coup test - measuring up to 20 Newtons at Cut Level 5 - modern highly cut resistant yarns were simply out-performing the test.

By adding the new straight blade test, which measures up to 30 Newtons, cut resistant materials can be measured more accurately. The test results' corresponding letter printed as part of the EN388's pictogram will provide glove users with the insight they need to gauge the true cut resistance of their PPE.

Other EN388 Changes: Impact Protection

Some of today's reusable gloves now feature back of the hand impact protection. The second additional letter in the revised EN388:2016 shows whether the glove passed the optional impact protection test.

What does the test involve? Well, in case you're not familiar with clause 6.9 of EN 13594:2015 (a test method for motorcycle gloves), here's a quick run down:

  1. The impact protective back-of-hand knuckle material is placed on a domed block of metal or anvil.
  2. A 2.5 kilogram flat metal hammer is dropped from a sufficient height to provide an impact energy of 5 Joules.* 
  3. Sensors connected below the anvil record the peak force in kilonewtons.
  4. The test is repeated four times on four different gloves to ensure consistent results.
  5. To pass the test, the transmitted force must 7 kilonewtons or less (with no single result great than 9 kilonewtons).
  6. If a glove passes, the final letter on the EN388 pictogram will show ‘P'. 

*A Joule is a unit of kinetic energy. It is equal to the energy transferred to an object when the force of one newton moves in a single direction across a distance of one metre.

Other EN388 Changes: New Abrasion Test Paper

Just a small change here. A slightly finer, 180 grit abrasive paper will be used instead of the 100 grit paper.

The original test method will remain the same. Using a Martindale test machine, sample material from the glove's palm is rubbed with abrasive paper to determine how many cycles it takes to rub a hole through the material.

Our thoughts on the new EN388:2016

Overall, we're very happy with the revisions made to EN388. Ultimately, it provides users with greater transparency and insight into how well the gloves protect against cut hazards. And we hope this extra information will result in safer work environments and fewer injuries.

 EN388 2016 revised illustration