November 20, 2018

It’s not enough to claim your product is safe. It also needs to live up to a standard. After all, safety standards are designed to hold manufacturers accountable to certain health and safety requirements. By clearly setting the bar, they instill trust in buyers and ensure products are designed, manufactured, and tested to give workers the protection they need.

With so many occupations requiring exposure to flame and heat, thermal protection is of prime importance. EN407 is recognized as an international standard for how well gloves protect from heat and/or flame (aka ‘thermal risk’). The standard was developed in Europe, which explains the use of Celsius over Fahrenheit.

Heat and flame protection may seem fairly basic, but the dangers are actually multi-faceted. Which is why EN407 is made up of six unique tests, each graded on a scale of zero to four. While the methods and performance levels depend on the field of application, one thing holds true: the higher the EN407 score the better.


Getting to the Bottom of EN407: Thermal Protection


Test

Levels

Resistance to Flammability

0 - 4

Contact Heat Resistance

0 - 4

Convective Heat Resistance

0 - 4

Radiant Heat Resistance

0 - 4

Resistance to Small Splashes of Molten Metal

0 - 4

Resistance to Large Splashes of Molten Metal

0 - 4


Got all that? Now let’s take a closer look the six glove performance tests.

1. Resistance to Flammability

Because the presence of flame is inherently dangerous, this test assesses how long gloves glow or burn after they’re ignited.

How the test works

In a controlled chamber, the glove is exposed to the flame for three seconds. The same test is performed for 15 seconds. After-flame and afterglow times are logged and the glove is inspected for any damage or exposed seams.


After-Burn Time (seconds)

After-Glow Time (seconds)

Rating

Under 20 seconds

Infinity

1

Under 10 seconds

Under 120 seconds

2

Under 3 seconds

Under 25 seconds

3

Under 2 seconds

Under 5 seconds

4


2. Contact Heat Resistance

This tests thermal resistance by measuring the rate of temperature rise. In other words, how long gloves keep heat and flame at bay.

How the test works

Palm samples are placed on four plates heated from 100°C to 500°C. Performance is determined by how long it takes the temperature on the side opposite the sample to rise 10°C. This is known as the threshold time. Gloves need to withstand the increasing temperature of maximum 10°C for at least 15 seconds for a pass at a given level. 


Temperature after 15 Seconds (plate temperature)

Rating

100°C

1

250°C

2

350°C

3

500°C

4


3. Convective Heat Resistance

This test resembles the Resistance to Flammability test; however, the flame is more aggressive and different surfaces of the glove are tested.

How the test works

In a controlled chamber, the cuff, back, and palm are exposed to the flame. The goal is to determine how long it takes to raise the inner temperature of the glove 24°C.


Seconds

Rating

Under 4 seconds

1

Under 7 seconds

2

Under 10 seconds

3

Under 18 seconds

4


4. Radiant Heat Resistance

This tests the back of the glove to ensure materials can resist extreme heat radiating through the glove’s various materials.

How the test works

Glove samples are exposed to a radiant heat source. Like the Convective Heat Resistance test, the goal is to assess how long it takes the inners temperatures to rise 24°C.


Seconds

Rating

Under 5 seconds

1

Under 30 seconds

2

Under 90 seconds

3

Under 150 seconds

4


5. Resistance to Small Splashes of Molten Metal

This test is designed to assess hand protection when working with small amounts of molten metal. Welding is a good example.

How the test works

In a controlled chamber, two palm and two back-of-the-hand samples are exposed to small drops of molten metal, such as copper. Protective performance is based on the number of drops needed to raise the temperature by 40°C on the opposite side of the sample.


Number of Drops

Rating

Under 5

1

Under 15

2

Under 25

3

Under 35

4


6. Resistance to Large Splashes of Molten Metal

For this test, PVC foil is used to simulate how skin would be affected inside the glove.

How the test works

Molten metal, such as iron, is poured over a glove sample that, in turn, is placed over PVC foil. After each of three tests, the foil is assessed for changes. If a drop remains stuck to the sample, or the sample ignites or is punctured the result is a failure.


Grams of Molten

Rating

30g

1

60g

2

120g

3

200g

4


Not every job requires gloves with the highest level of thermal protection. Then again, when working with extreme heat, flames, or molten materials, it’s good to know how gloves stack up. It’s the reason the EN407 safety standard exists. Because, when the heat is on, not all gloves are created equal.

Download EN407 Guide