Learn About Glove Cut Resistance Standards
What is it?
When it comes to the topic of hand safety, cut resistance is the single most talked about factor because cuts and lacerations are by far the most common type of hand injuries. Cut resistance is a measure of how much the material resists an attempt to cut through it and it is measured according to two different standards.
How is it tested?
A glove’s cut resistance rating is determined by testing it against either the ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 or the EN 388-2016 standards or against both of them. In North America the ANSI test is the preferred method and EN 388 is a global standard preferred in Europe, Asia, and South America.
The ANSI or TDM test involves subjecting a sample of the material to a series of cuts made by a straight-edged blade that is placed under load and moved 20mm along a straight path across the sample. A total of 15 cuts is made, 5 cuts each under a different load, and with a new blade for each cut. The data from these cuts is used to determine the cutting force which is then equated to a cut level that ranges from A1, the least cut resistant to A9, the most cut resistant.
ANSI Cut Level Indicators
The EN 388 test, also known as the Coup Test, is a little different and uses a rounded blade under a fixed, 500g, load. This blade is then counter rotated and moved across the material until it cuts through or performs 60 passes. Before and after the sample is tested, a cotton or canvas reference sample is tested to determine if the test sample has dulled the rotary blade.
If significant dulling has taken place, and this is determined by an increase in how many passes the blade took to cut through the reference material – for instance before the test it took 10 passes and after it took 30 or more – then a version of the straight blade or TDM test is performed. The data from the tests is then used to determine cutting force and given a grade from 0-5, with 5 being most cut resistant, for the Coup Test, and a grade of A-I, with I being most cut resistant, for the TDM test.
EN 388 Resistance Level Indicator
Are they equal?
While the Coup and the TDM test are both cut resistance tests the methods they use give results that cannot be directly compared. The TDM test measures how much force, given in grams of mass, it takes to cut through a material with a straight edged blade, while the Coup test uses a cut index calculation to give a result and was unreliable when dealing with fabrics that are designed to dull blades.
However, in 2016 both methods were revised. The ANSI test’s scale was enhanced giving both a wider scale of 1-9 instead of 1-5 a more focused range for each level. The EN 388 scale was changed to include the TDM test on fabrics that significantly dull the blade in the Coup test and a straight blade cut resistance level was added on an A-I range that roughly equates to the new 1-9 scale of the ANSI test.
Is higher always better?
There is often a tradeoff when seeking higher cut resistance.
That tradeoff is usually seen in a loss of dexterity when wearing the glove. All too often this leads to removing the glove to get the job done. Which in turn can lead to injuries that wearing a glove would prevent.
The best glove is ultimately the one that gives you the protection you need without interfering with your ability to work, not necessarily the one with the highest ranking of cut resistance.
A few examples
Myths of cut resistance
The most dangerous myths of cut resistance are that a cut resist glove will let you safely catch and stop razor blades or that the highest rating is cut proof. There is a reason that the standards organizations refer to it as resistance.
Anything can be cut. Diamonds, one of the hardest known substances, are still cut into facets. With enough force or determination anything can be cut through, even the highest rated cut resistant materials.
With our gloves we strive to help protect you from the accidental cuts that can happen from a variety of sources, things like a piece of sheet metal or glass slipping or a bump or brush against a sharp corner or edge.
Protecting your hands while on the job, whether that’s your 9-5 or the one you do for the sheer adrenaline of the experience, is what we focus on. A good cut resistant glove can be what stands between an accidental cut that needs stitches and one that just needs a bandage.