EN 388 – Protective gloves against mechanical risks


The European Standard EN 388:2003 specifies the requirement as well as test methods for safety gloves intended to protect the worker from mechanical risks. The gloves are tested for resistance to abrasion, cut, tear and puncture, rating the level of protection with grades from 1 to 4 for abrasion, tear and puncture and 1 to 5 for cut resistance. Gloves graded with level 4 (5) provide the highest level of protection, while gloves that are graded with level 1 provide lowest level of protection.

  1. Resistance to abrasion
    For this test four samples of the glove are rubbed in circular motion against abrasive material. The minimum number of cycles needed to abrade trough the material are measured and represent the level of resistance from 1 to 4 as shown in the table below.
  2. Cut resistance (Coup-test)
    To measure the cut resistance of the glove a rotating circular blade moves forward and backward under standard weight pressure until it makes a cut trough the material. Two glove samples and five cuts on each sample are made, measuring the number of cycles needed to cut trough the material.
  3. Tear resistance
    Four samples of the glove are clamped and  stretched on each side with constant speed, measuring the force needed to tear the material. The lowest of the four tests is taken as the final result.
  4. Puncture resistance
    The glove sample is pierced with a standard rounded point needle at a constant speed and force until it pierces trough, measuring the force needed to pierce trough the material. Lowest level of four tests is taken as the resistance level.
Test Performance level
1 2 3 4 5
Abrasion – cycles 100 500 2000 8000
Cut – index 1,2 2,5 5 10 20
Tear – Newton 10 25 50 75
Puncture – Newton 20 60 100 150


EN 388:2016

The EN 388 standard was updated in 2016 introducing additional test method for cut resistance – ISO 13997, meant to test the cut resistance of materials which are highly resistant to the conventional Coup-test method.
The ISO 13997 method uses a straight blade that passes trough the glove sample at a constant force and constant speed. The cut resistance is measured by the weight needed to cut trough the material after the blade has passed 2 cm. Several tests are performed with different weigh, from which the appropriate weight is established. Five more tests are performed with that weight to confirm the level of resistance. If the results do not conform this weight the test is repeated. The levels of protection are rated from A to F, A being the lowest level of protection and F being the highest level of protection.
This testing method is not mandatory requirement of the EN 388 norm.

Performance level A B C D E F
Newton ≥2 ≥5 ≥10 ≥15 ≥22 ≥30


Marking of the gloves according to EN 388:2016
The letter stating the performance level is added on the fifth place beneath the EN 388 pictogram.

EN 388: 2016