March 5, 2020

Your Guide to Puncture Standards, Gloves, and Everything in Between

For those working in applications where they face industrial puncture hazards daily, injuries are a constant threat. Hazards can be as thick as a wood splinter or as fine as a single wire strand from a steel-braided cable. Understanding the levels for puncture resistance protection and how to choose the correct PPE per application is essential to protecting yourself and your workers.

Here is what you need to know about puncture testing standards, and how they apply to your safety program:

What is the Industrial Puncture Resistance Standard?

Puncture resistance is among the major mechanical properties required for protective clothing. The standard tests the maximum force required for a puncture probe to penetrate a specimen clamped between two plates in a sample holder. The EN388 standardized test for puncture is the only testing procedure that is used and recognized by both EN388 and ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 standards.

It is important to note that there are two puncture standards: blunt puncture and needlestick puncture. Both will be covered below.

EN388:2016 and ANSI/ISEA 105 Blunt Puncture Testing

This method uses a probe to simulate a tear or burst hazard. ANSI/ISEA recognizes both the testing instrument and probe used in the EN388 puncture standard.

How the test works: This industrial puncture test measures the amount of force needed for a blunt probe to pierce through PPE material.

  • The blunt probe is like that of a ballpoint pen
  • The test fabric is held firmly between two plates in a sample holder
  • A probe penetrates the test fabric at a 90° angle at 100mm/min
  • Results are reported in Newtons

Results are given in Newtons, which is converted into a 1-4 scale for EN388, and a 1-5 scale for ANSI/ISEA 105. This scale spans from 10 newtons to 150 newtons of puncture resistance.

How the standard is labeled: Though manufacturers are not required to label blunt puncture scores, puncture-resistant gloves will be marked on the label or glove branding with a 1-4 scale for EN388 and a 1-5 scale for ANSI/ISEA 105.


ASTM F2878 Needle Puncture Testing

The other type of puncture is needlestick. Effective February 2016, the ANSI/ISEA 105 standard was updated and published to include the ASTM F2878-10 needlestick puncture test, recognizing that this is a common potential exposure risk for the medical, sanitation, and recycling industries.

How the test works: The ASTM F2878 hypodermic needle test calls for a 21G, 25G, or 28G needle (HexArmor® uses a 25-gauge needle) to measure the amount of force it takes to puncture through the testing material.

  • Test fabric is held firmly between two plates in a sample holder
  • A probe penetrates the test fabric at a 90° angle at a 500mm/min
  • A minimum of 12 specimens are used to report the classification level
  • Results are reported in Newtons

How the standard is labeled: Though manufacturers are not required to label needle puncture scores, needlestick-resistant gloves will be marked on the label with their ASTM F2878 test score from level 1-5, which measures from 2-10 Newtons, with a level 5 measuring at 10 Newtons or higher.


The Bottom Line 

While there are many options when it comes to puncture-resistant materials, no one material or glove will protect from all puncture hazards. No material is puncture-proof. Because work conditions vary from one job to another, there is no way to tell how effective a particular safety glove will be without testing it in the field against the actual hazards encountered in the workplace. Testing standards should be used as a guide to help choose gloves, and field-testing should be done before any new gloves are implemented.

Get Your Puncture-Resistant Gloves from HexArmor®

We’ve got what you need to help keep your hands safe from punctures on the job. Engineered to arrest and deflect industrial hazards, HexArmor® is an exclusive licensee of SuperFabric®* brand material that uses a configuration of small guard plates that are merged on to a variety of fabrics to prevent industrial puncture hazards from reaching your skin. The spacing between the guard plates provides needed flexibility without sacrificing performance.

For puncture hazards specifically, fabrics like tightly woven polyester provide a strong base for the SuperFabric® guard plate application process providing high cut resistance as well. For more extreme applications, multiple aligned layers of puncture-resistant SuperFabric® provide extra protection without the bulk, unlike anything else in the industry.