ISEA versus CE: Know the different cut standards

ISEA versus CE: Know the different cut standards header image

When the time comes to select PPE for employees, there should be no question that you’re receiving the best cut protection for your company’s unique applications. To do this, it’s crucial to have a complete understanding of the factors that should be involved in the purchase decision.

One primary (and often poorly understood) factor relates to various cut tests and levels, specifically for the European EN388 (CE) and North American ANSI/ISEA standards. An understanding of these standards is imperative and could be the difference between an employee getting a serious injury or avoiding it because their PPE had the appropriate cut level protection.

European standard

Updated in 2016, the EN 388 standard now reports two cut levels, using two different testing methods. These scores are required to be labeled on the glove per the manufacturer. Here is an explanation of both testing methods:

1. Coup test

This test uses a circular blade that moves back and forth under 500 grams of weight until cut through occurs. Cut levels are reported on a 1-5 scale (1.2-20 Newtons) based on the ratio of rotations it takes to cut through the sample vs the control sample.

However, with high cut-resistant materials, the Coup Test blade dulls and causes inconsistencies, which is why EN 388 added a second test required for high cut materials: the ISO 13997.

2. ISO 13997

This second (and more recommended) test was added in 2016. This method also called the TDM-100 test because of the machine name, uses a straight razor blade under variable force to measure cut resistance, giving more consistent results with higher cut materials, better simulating real-life cut hazards.

  • Five Newton force used for calibration
  • Mean cut-through length is 20mm
  • All cuts are in the same direction and the same length
  • After each cut is made, the blade is changed, and force is added
  • Measured in Newtons
  • Reported in levels A-F (2-30 Newtons / 200-3000 grams)

American standard

Similarly, the ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 cut standard was also updated in 2016 and requires the use of the TDM-100 machine, under the established ASTM F2992-15 test method, but uses slightly different requirements to conduct the testing. Scores are not required to be labeled on the glove but is highly recommended to manufacturers.

  • 500 grams of weight used for calibration
  • Average of three tests of five cuts are required
  • Mean cut-through length is 20mm
  • All cuts are in the same direction and the same length
  • After each cut is made, the blade is changed, and weight is added
  • Measured in grams
  • Reported on an A1-A9 scale (200-6000 grams / 2-60 Newtons)

Though comparable to the EN 388 A-F levels, ANSI/ISEA extends its scale by three levels to 6000 grams to report high cut materials more accurately.

Understanding the standard

Understanding cut tests and standards allow a safety manager to consistently outfit his or her employees with the ideal protection for every application. Since CE is the only certification-requiring body, safety glove manufacturers in North America can, in theory, produce gloves without testing for cut resistance. When comparing the cut resistance of two or more fabrics it is essential to make sure that for all materials:

  1. The same test method was used
  2. The same type of cut tester was used

Unless these points are met, you cannot accurately compare the results. So, the next time you’re looking at a flashy brochure or are approached with the next set of the industries’ “safest gloves,” make sure to inquire exactly what their definition of this means. The answer could be the difference between the next recorded injury and the next success story of an injury prevented.

Graph of cut level comparison between CE versus ANSI/ISEA.

HexArmor® can help

We know these standards can sometimes be confusing, and HexArmor® can help. For a more in-depth look at ISEA vs. CE standards, including cut, puncture, needle, and more, download our hand safety brochure.

Or if you're looking for PPE recommendations, we can help with that, too. Our lineup of industry-leading cut-resistant hand, arm, and body protection has consistently outperformed the competition in cut protection, not to mention has lowered the total recordable incident reports and bottom line for companies across industries.

Plus, we're an exclusive licensee of SuperFabric®* brand material, a high-quality, cut-resistant material made from a configuration of tiny guard plates that protect against not only cut injuries but puncture, abrasion, and needlestick injuries as well, without sacrificing dexterity.

Download our SuperFabric® solutions brochure and see what product may be the best for you and your application or learn more about SuperFabric® technology here.

Let us know if you need help or if you're ready to start a trial - our Solution Specialists are ready to work with you. Call 1-877-MY ARMOR or send us a message.

Browse all HexArmor® cut-resistant hand protection

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