EN388 – What the numbers mean 2013 v 2016 and what 2023 will bring.

Most people are aware of what the numbers on safety gloves that we wear everyday mean but just in case it is always good to refresh our knowledge.


In the old days if the gloves conformed to EN388 it meant that they had been independently tested to see how they rated on the following – (the higher the number the more protection if offers the user.)

  • Abrasion – based on a score between 1 & 4
  • Cut – based on a score between 1 & 5
  • Tear – based on a score between 1 & 4
  • Puncture – based on a score between 1 & 4

Back in 2016 the new EN388 standard has added two more tests for cut protection and impact protection.

Cut Protection

The new cut protection test increases the force of the sharp implements being used and it is scored between A & F with “F” being the maximum cut resistance of the ISO 13997 test and is awarded to any fabric that achieves a cut resistance equal to or greater than 30N or approximately 3.06kg. The ISO 13997 Cut Test is commonly referred to as a “real world” cut test because of its ability to measure cut force, which is widely considered a more relevant metric in workplace situations when a cut risk is present.

Impact Protection 

The EN388:2016 impact test measures resistance to a 2.5kg weight impacting on the glove with an energy of 5J (Joules). To pass the test, the glove material may not fracture or split and is measured in accordance with EN13594:2015.

The glove is awarded a “Pass” (P) if it can withstand nine (9) kilonewtons (kN) or more of force. The glove itself will be marked with either a “P” or no rating (marked as an X) if it fails or is untested.

The reason for sharing this ‘new’ standard is that until 2023 gloves may continue to be sold under both versions of the standard. In 2023, when, under the new PPE Regulation, their certification will need to be renewed and that will have to be to the latest version of the standard.