EN Standard Tests

The state-of-the-art Technical Department laboratories at the Group's head office in Enfield are equipped to carry out a range of tests on protective gloves. The chemical and physical test laboratories are accredited by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Services) to ISO 17025.

EN374-2 Determination of Resistance to Water Penetration

This is the reference test specified by the European Standard for the assessment of glove quality. Gloves must pass this test in order to prove that they are an effective barrier against liquids and micro-organisms. A statistical sample taken from a batch of gloves is subject to checks for pinholes and leaks by either inflation with air or by filling with water. Performance levels are assessed according to the acceptable quality levels (AQL) of the gloves.

Gloves must meet at least level 2 of EN374-2 to be considered micro-organism resistant and will carry the following chemical pictogram:

Level 1 2 3
AQL 4.0 1.5 0.65

EN374-3 Determination of Resistance to Permeation by Chemicals                                                        BACK TO TOP

Resistance to permeation is assessed by measuring the time for a chemical to break through the glove material. Samples, cut from the palms of gloves, are placed in a permeation cell which enables the chemical to be placed in contact with the outer surface of the gloves. Collection air or water is passed through the cell to collect any chemical that has broken through to the inside surface of the glove sample. Polyco laboratories are equipped with a FTIR spectrometer (to detect solvents), conductivity/pH electrodes (to detect acids, alkalis and salts) and UV/Visible spectrophotometer (to detect high boiling point, water soluble chemicals and solvents).

A Methanol B Acetone C Acetonitrile D Dichloromethane E  Carbon Disulphide
F Toluene G Diethylamine H Tetrahydrofuran I Ethyl Acetate J n-Heptane
K Sodium Hydroxide L Sulphuric Acid 96%      

For gloves that do not meet these requirements, but do pass the leak test of EN 374-2, the following pictogram may be used:

Performance Level 1 2 3 4 5 6
Breakthrough Time (min) >10 >30 >60 >120 >240 >480

Performance levels are assessed according to the breakthrough times of the chemicals.

EN388 Protective Gloves against Mechanical Risks                                                        BACK TO TOP

The following equipment is used to assess the properties of gloves specified by the EN388 standard, which is symbolised by the pictogram above.

A Martindale wear and abrasion tester is used to measure the abrasion resistance. The test involves rubbing samples, cut from the palms of gloves, against a standard glass paper until a hole is worn through one of the samples. The number of abrasion cycles is used to assess the performance.

A Sodemat cut tester is used to measure the resistance to cutting. Samples are cut from gloves and placed in a frame which enables a circular, counter-rotating blade to slice through the glove material. The number of cycles required by the blade to cut through the glove are recorded. These are converted into a cutting index by comparison with the number of cycles required to cut through a standard reference material. The standard now allows for an alternative test method to be used for highly cut resistant products and this test is described in EN ISO 13997. It measures the force required to make a cut in the test sample 20mm long and is often referred to as the ISO Cut Test. Performance levels are established according to cutting index.

Performance Level 1 2 3 4 5
Abrasion Cycles 100 500 2000 8000 n/a
Cutting Index 1.2 2.5 5 10 20
Tear Force (N) 10 25 50 75 n/a
Puncture Force (N) 20 60 100 150 n/a
ISO Cut Load (N)       13 22

Puncture and tear resistance are measured with a tensometer. Puncture resistance is measured as the force required to break through samples from gloves with a standard puncture needle (it should be noted that the design of this needle is comparable to that of a large nail, and the puncture strength from this test cannot be used to assess resistance to puncture by hypodermic needles). Tear resistance is measured as the force required to tear apart samples from the glove which are in the form of a pair of trousers (this test is also known as a trouser tear test). The legs of the trouser samples are pulled apart and the maximum force used to assess tearing resistance of the material.

EN407 Protective Gloves Against Thermal Risks                                                        BACK TO TOP

Burning Behaviour is tested according to EN ISO 6941 with the glove mounted and tested vertically. A flame is placed directly below and in line with the glove at an angle of 30° and a distance of 20mm. The glove is tested for each ignition time i.e. 3 seconds and 15 seconds. The flame time and after glow time for each performance level is as follows:

Performance Level After Flame Time (s) After Glow Time (s)
1 20 No requirement
2 10 120
3 3 25
4 2 5

Contact Heat is tested according to EN 702. Samples are taken from the palm area and placed in contact with a cylinder of the appropriate temperature. To gain the relevant performance level, the temperature of the inside of the glove cannot rise by more than 10°C within the threshold time.

Performance Level Contact Temperature °C Threshold Time
1 100 15
2 250 15
3 350 15
4 500 15

Convective Heat is tested according to EN 367 : 1992. Samples are subjected to the incident heat from a flame, and the heat passing through to the inside of the glove is measured. The time to record a temperature rise of 24°C is the Heat Transfer Index (HTI).

Performance Level Heat Transfer Index HTI (s)
1 4
2 7
3 10
4 18

Radiant Heat is tested according to EN ISO 6942 : 2002. The sample is exposed to radiant heat density of 20kW/m2 and the time taken for the temperature on the inside of the glove to rise 24°C gives the performance level.

Performance Level Heat Transfer Index HTI (s)
1 7
2 20
3 50
4 95

Resistance to small splashes of molten metal is tested according to EN 348 : 1992. Molten drops from a metal rod melted by exposing the rod to a flame are allowed to fall on the sample. The number of drops required to the raise the temperature on the inside of the glove by 40°C gives the performance level.

Performance Level Number of droplets
1 10
2 15
3 25
4 35

Resistance to large splashes of molten metal is tested according to EN 373 : 1993. A quantity of molten iron is poured onto the sample, which has a PVC film mounted behind the sample. This film must not show any changes to the surface (such as discrete spots or damage) when the sample is exposed to the quantity of molten iron as shown in the following table:

Performance Level Molten Iron (g)
1 30
2 60
3 120
4 200

EN420 General Requirements for Gloves                                                        BACK TO TOP

This standard lays out the general requirements for gloves and amongst other specific requirements, the glove shall not adversely affect the user's health and hygiene.

EN420 covers attributes including:

  • Sizing
  • Length
  • Dexterity
  • pH
  • Chromium VI content
  • Natural rubber latex protein content
  • General requirements for information to be supplied with and marked on the glove

Hand Size Guide

This can be downloaded below. Please note that it should not be used on the screen, but printed on A4 with no scaling.

EN455 Medical Gloves                                                        BACK TO TOP

EN455 Medical Gloves for Single Use.  Part 1 Requirements and Testing for Freedom From Holes
Gloves must pass this test in order to prove that they are an effective barrier against micro-organisms. A statistical sample taken from a batch of gloves is subject to checks for pinholes and leaks by filling with water. Gloves must achieve an acceptable quality levels (AQL) of 1.5 or better in order to be used as examination, procedure or surgical gloves.

AQL1.5 is equivalent to a maximum risk of 1.5% that any given glove contains a pinhole capable of allowing water, and therefore micro-organisms, through the film.

EN455 Medical Gloves for Single Use.  Part 2 Requirements and Testing for Physical Properties
This standard includes tests for glove dimensions, and physical strength. Gloves are treated differently depending on the use they are intended for and the material they are manufactured from.

  Surgical Gloves Examination/Procedure Gloves made of Rubbers Examination/Procedure Gloves made of Thermoplastics (e.g. Vinyl)
Force at Break Throughout Entire Shelf Life 9.0 6.0 3.6

EN455 Medical Gloves for Single Use.  Part 3 Requirements and Testing for Biological Evaluation
This standard includes tests for potentially hazardous materials that may affect the wearer or be transferred to a patient.  These materials include:

  • Endotoxins:  Toxic materials left behind by certain bacteria that can cause fever in humans
  • Latex Proteins:  Because natural rubber latex is a natural product it contains proteins and enzymes that can cause a severe allergic reaction in genetically predisposed people
  • Chemical Residues:  Most commonly, accelerators used in the manufacture of the product itself.  These can cause allergic dermatitis in some genetically predisposed individuals
  • Powder: A powder free medical glove should have a powder level of <2mg per glove

The materials above are tested individually as well as collectively, through the use of limited animal testing according to a separate standard, ISO10993.

EN455 Medical Gloves for Single Use.  Part 4 Determination of Shelf Life
This standard requires a complicated network of tests to determine how long a glove will be fit for use when stored in warehouses or in end-user store rooms.  All calculations based on this testing must be checked by comparison to samples aged in real-time as soon as those samples become available.  The maximum shelf-life that can ever be claimed for medical gloves is five years from the date of manufacture.

EN511 Protective Gloves Against Cold                                                        BACK TO TOP

Convective Cold is tested by measuring the power required to maintain a constant temperature on a heated full-scale hand model in the ambient atmosphere of a climatic room which provides uniform conditions. The hand model is typically heated to 30-35°C. The resultant thermal insulation (ITR) is calculated using the hand model temperature, climatic room temperature and the power consumption of the heated hand to maintain a constant temperature.

Performance Level Thermal Insulation (ITR) in m2°C/W
1 0.10  ITR < 0.15
2 0.15  ITR < 0.22
3 0.22  ITR < 0.30
4 0.30  ITR

Contact Cold is tested according to ISO 5085-1 : 1989. The Thermal Resistance (R) is calculated by placing the sample on top of a heated plate with another metal plate (cold plate) placed on top of the sample. This is placed inside a cabinet which has an extractor fan to draw air past the assembly which has a cooling effect on the cold plate. The temperature gradient either side of the sample is measured and compared with the temperature gradient either side of a reference standard. The Thermal Insulation is calculated from the known thermal resistance of the standard and the measured temperature gradients.

Performance Level Thermal Insulation (R) in m2°C/W
1 0.025  R < 0.050
2 0.050  R < 0.100
3 0.100  R < 0.150
4 0.150  R

Water Impermeability is tested in accordance with EN 344 : 1992. Water penetration shall not appear less than 30 minutes after the start of the test and is essentially a pass or fail.

EN1186 Food Contact                                                        BACK TO TOP

There are two stages that a glove manufacturer must go through to ensure that a plastic article is suitable for food contact use:

  1. Ensure that the product formulation only contains substances listed in EU Regulation 10/2011 (plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs). This is a positive list whereby the product concerned can only be made from the materials listed in this directive.
  2. Perform either specific or total migration testing or both to ensure that the article in contact with food does not leach anything into the food. This is detailed in the EN1186 series of standards (materials and articles in contact with foodstuffs – plastics).

If both of these criteria are met, the following symbol can be applied to the glove and/or packaging:


This set of standards lays down what chemicals can be used to replicate various food types in addition to the methods to be used. There are 4 food stuffs defined:

  • Aqueous: where plain water is used as the food simulant
  • Alcoholic: where 10% ethanol solution is used as the food simulant
  • Acidic: where 3% acetic acid solution is used as the food simulant
  • Fatty: where various equivalents are used as the food stimulant. Typically these are iso-octane, 95% ethanol or olive oil.

There is a maximum overall migration limit from the article into the food of 10mg/dm2, any article being used in contact with food must meet this requirement.

There are also correction factors that can be applied to the migration results of fatty foods. This is based on the fat content of the food and the ability of a particular foodstuff to extract component(s) out of an article in contact with food. Highly fatty foods such as oils have no reduction factors, while meats have a reduction factor of 4.

This means that even when the overall migration limit of 10mg/dm2 is exceeded, the article may still be suitable for use depending on the type of food being handled.

EN60903 Live Working Gloves of Insulating Material                                                        BACK TO TOP

To obtain compliance with EN60903, all gloves must be tested to the relevant voltage in the table shown. The construction, thickness and test voltage combine to give the class compliance. To maintain compliance, gloves must be inspected and/or re-tested every 6 months.


Class Testing voltage Maximum working voltage
00 2,500V 500V
0 5,000V 1,000V
1 10,000V 7,500V
2 20,000V 17,000V
3 30,000V 26,500V
4 40,000V 36,000V


Class Testing voltage Maximum working voltage
00 4,000V 750V
0 10,000V 1,500V
1 20,000V 11,250V
2 30,000V 25,500V
3 40,000V 39,750V
4 60,000V 54,000V