Protective Gloves – General Requirements
This standard ensures that gloves are comfortable to wear and safe to use, it covers four areas namely length, sizing & dexterity, pH value and Chrome VI levels (leather gloves only).
The glove is measured from the tip of the middle finger to the edge of the cuff. These measurements are then compared to the required minimum lengths required for each glove size as outlined in EN 420.
Sizing & Dexterity
The gloves are worn on a hand of the specified size, the wearer then comments on general sizing and comfort. In order to test dexterity, the wearer performs a simple test in which they attempt to pick up metal pins of decreasing diameter – the smaller the pin, the greater the dexterity.
All gloves are tested for their pH levels – too acid or too alkaline and the glove may cause skin irritation. The test requires the glove to possess a pH value greater than 3.5 and lower than 9.5. If a glove consists of more than one material, each material is tested independently.
This test only applies to gloves which contain leather components. Samples are taken from at least two gloves, the chromium IV is ‘leached’ from the leather and oxidised to create a red/purple colour. This colouring indicates the levels of Chrome IV present, these levels must be below 3mg/kg for a glove to pass this test.
This is the most common standard used in relation to workwear gloves, it covers the level of protection offered by the gloves against mechanical hazards. The testing is broken down into four areas: abrasion, cut, tear and puncture resistance.
Circular samples are cut from the palm of the glove, these samples are then inserted into the testing machine. An abrasive paper is then rubbed across the surface of the glove at a consistent rate with consistent pressure. There are four levels of performance relating to the number of abrasion cycles completed before a hole forms in the material, level 4 being the highest and level 1 being the lowest level of performance.
Samples are cut from the palm of the glove, these samples are then mounted in the testing machine. A circular blade is then pulled across the material at a consistent rate with consistent pressure. The cut level of the glove is determined by the number of times the test can be repeated before the material is cut through. There are five levels for this part of the test; level 5 being he highest and level 1 being the lowest.
A sample of glove material is taken from the glove and mounted in the testing machine. The amount of force required to tear the fabric determines the tear resistance of the glove, level four offers the highest protection, level 1 offers the lowest level of protection.
Samples are cut from the palm of the glove, these samples are then mounted into the testing machine. The amount of force required to puncture the glove by a needle of a specified dimensions determines the level of puncture resistance achieved – level four being the highest level, level 1 being the lowest.
This standard outlines the level of protection offered by the gloves against both chemicals and micro-organisms. The standard includes both penetration and permeation tests designed to determine the suitability of the glove for use with a range of chemicals.
Resistance to Penetration
The performance of glove in relation to resistance to penetration is assessed through two tests. Firstly, the glove is inflated and then placed in a tank of water. Any holes in the material of the glove will present as small air bubbles. Secondly, the glove is filled with water – droplets of water will form on the outer surface of the glove if any holes are present in the material of the glove.
Resistance to Permeation
Samples of the glove material are placed in contact with a specific chemical. The length of time it takes for the chemical to permeate the glove is recorded and used to determine the permeation level. The glove must obtain satisfactory results for at least 3 chemicals (as outlined in the EN 374 guidelines) in order for it to be awarded an EN 374 level.
Standard EN 13982-1 relates to disposable chemical suits, specifically those described as offering Type 5 protection. Type 5 coveralls are required to offer protection against solid particulates, in order to test this, the garment is placed in an enclosed space into which an airborne particulate is released. The quantity os stimulant found on the inside of the suit is then measured and compared with the requirements of the standard in order to determine a pass or fail result. Specific tests relating to abrasion and flex resistance are also carried out as part of EN 13982-1, the coverall must pass all aspects of the testing process in order to be considered a Type 5 garment.
Standard EN 13034 relates to disposable chemical suits, specifically those described as offering Type 6 protection. Type 6 coveralls are required to offer protection against chemical mists and sprays. The test subject wears a sample coverall over an absorbent suit, a mixture of non-toxic water, detergent and dye is then sprayed onto the suit. Any areas of dyed fabric found on the absorbent suit indicate areas of leakage – this is compared with the requirements of the standard in order to determine a pass or fail result. Specific testing relating to tear strength, tensile strength and seam strength are also carried out. The coverall is required to pass all aspects of EN 13034 in order to be considered a Type 6 garment.