Note: This blog refers to standards set prior to 2016. For information on the updated standards, read our "Changes to Cut Protection Standards for Hand PPE" blog post.
As simple as the industry may try to make it sound, there remains an unsettling level of confusion in the cut-resistant glove market. With multiple 1-to-5 rating scales, a variety of acceptable or certified standards, differing testing methods, as well as a slew of acronyms associated with the testing, safety managers may find themselves overwhelmed when sifting through potential cut-resistant PPE.
But there is one thing that is met with general agreement in the hand safety industry: not all cut-resistant gloves are created equal. With this in mind, it becomes vitally important that those making the PPE purchase decisions be fully informed on the cut-resistant products available to them.
Here is what you need to know about cut testing standards, and how they apply to your safety program:
However, many gloves sold in North America will indicate both testing results. Keep in mind that the ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association)/ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is a committee of manufacturers and suppliers of safety equipment, as well as a group of standardization societies, which have established a standardized test for cut-resistant materials. On the other hand, the European Union uses the EN388 standard to test against mechanical properties. Once products are tested a CE (Conformité Européenne) certification is granted, verifying a product has properly been tested, and the test results properly reported. Many manufacturers in North America will seek CE compliance, as it is required in Europe and other parts of the world.
While both parties report cut-resistance on a numerical scale from Level 1 to Level 5, there are differences in these scales. A glove with ISEA/ANSI Level 3 cut resistance may not necessarily test at Level 3 on the CE method. The reason for this difference in the rating scale is the difference in accepted testing methods.
Prior to 2004, a cut length of 25mm was required when performing the test, but the specifications have since been updated to only require 20mm. The update was made, along with a few other changes, so that both the Tomodynamometer (TDM) and Cut Protection Performance Tester (CPPT) testing machines would be compatible. Be certain when comparing data that the same test is used for each product in the comparison.
As the CE is the only certification-requiring body, vendors of safety gloves in North America are able to sell gloves without ever testing them for cut resistance. If they elect to test them for cut resistance, they are able to use any method they choose.
Furthermore, the CE certification does not require the ISO 13997 for highly cut resistant materials, but only recommends it. As such, a manufacturer of PPE in North America could feasibly run the EN388 Coup test on a cut resistant material, and due to the nature of the test, return dramatically inaccurate results that portray the material to be far more resistant to cuts than it actually is.
It is extremely important to gather information both about the material used in PPE, as well as the methods by which it is tested, before continuing with a purchase decision.
Per OSHA regulations, the final burden of responsibility concerning cut resistance falls on the employer. Though testing regulations and certifications are a viable starting point for a purchase decision process, they are never to be taken as a validation of the inherent protection offered to an employee.
Ask them questions, and seek thorough explanations for the methods that they have selected to test their products.
More information on each of the tests listed can be found on these websites:
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