May 15, 2014

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.

We know cut testing can be confusing, but with the tips below you can feel more educated the next time you are in the process of purchasing cut resistant PPE for you, or your company.


1.) There are two main standards (US and European)
The US standard for PPE cut testing is called the ANSI/ISEA 105 standard. The ANSI/ISEA 105 standard was designed by a committee of manufacturers and suppliers of safety equipment (ANSI/ISEA organization) working together to find a measure which manufacturers and end users could use to determine a standard.

The European standard which calls out cut testing performance (amongst other mechanical performance properties) is the EN388. In order to sell safety gloves into the European Union, products must be tested and certified for their mechanical performance properties using the EN388 standard.


2.) Different test methods
The ANSI/ISEA standard uses the ASTM F1790-97 or F1790-05 test method for determining a gloves level of cut resistance. This method obtains a rating based on the grams of weight needed to cut through a material. These weights are applied to a straight blade, which then moves at a constant speed vertically across the material being run until it cuts through.

The EN388 references two different test methods: the Coup test and the ISO 13997 test. The Coup test determines a material’s cut resistance rating through the counts of rotations needed for a circular blade, moving laterally, to cut through the material. The Coup test is not recommended for materials with high levels of cut resistance, because it can dull the blade, resulting in inaccurate testing. Instead, the ISO 13997 test can be used. This method is similar to the earlier referenced ASTM F1970 test that measures the amount of weight needed to cut through a material.



3.) Different cut resistance rating scales
The ASTM F1790-97 test delivers a gram score based on the amount of weight applied against the blade. A new blade is used for each test. This gram amount then translates to a level 1-5. The more weight needed to cut through the material, the higher the level of cut resistance.

The Coup test also delivers a rating based on levels 1-5. Initial calibration cuts are performed, and then actual testing begins. During the testing, the blade is not changed, but is monitored. The test is repeated 5 times, with the separate test results indexed to find the final result. The indexed values are found by taking the number of rotations it took the circular blade to cut through the material. Materials with a higher overall indexed score have a higher level of cut resistance. It is suggested that gloves that have a high Coup test rating should also be tested on the ISO standard, because when the Coup test blade is used on higher cut resistant materials, the blade can dull, causing inaccurate results.

Similar to the ASTM F1790-97 test, the ISO delivers a weight rating (in Newtons) based on the force needed to cut through a material. Typically this test is used on materials with high levels of cut resistance and is only applicable for levels 4 and 5.

The Bottom Line
The most important take away is CE and ANSI/ISEA cut levels are not equal. As a result of the test method differences, ANSI/ISEA cut level 5 materials can have a higher cut resistance than CE cut level 5 materials. The scale is difficult to understand, but easier when you look at cut levels in grams. A CE level 5 may only be able to withstand 500 grams of weight, while an ISEA level 4 can withstand 2,000 grams of weight. This is something to be aware of when purchasing PPE. Many companies advertise cut level 5, but do not specify whether that is CE or ANSI/ISEA. Additionally, it needs to be determined whether the CE level was achieved with the Coup or ISO test, since ISO is not required, but recommended for materials with higher cut resistance. If you are uncertain about a cut rating, reach out to the manufacturer and ask which cut testing method was used and for the cut resistance rating in grams (or Newtons for ISO 13997).


Standard (Origin) Europe Europe U.S.
Organization CE CE ANSI/ISEA
Standard EN3388 EN388 ANSI/ISEA 105
Test Coup Test ISO 13997 ASTM F1790-97
Levels 1-5 4-5 1-5
Results Given Index Value Newtons Grams


Make Your Work Site Safer
Understanding the basics of cut resistance ratings and methods may not have a direct impact on the safety at your worksite, but it can help you choose PPE that will. Educating not only yourself but your employees on safety standards is a vital part of taking work sites one step closer to zero injuries.


To learn more about cut testing, download our whitepaper below.  .....

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