How Have Safety Glove Ratings Changed?


How have safety glove ratings changed in recent years? This is a common question as prior to 2016 all safety gloves worn in the workplace had to be complaint with EN 388:2003. Now they must meet the new safety requirements set out in EN 388:2016 Protection Against Mechanical Risks.

In 2016, the current safety glove standard EN388:2003 was updated with changes to the way gloves are tested for Cut Resistance. EN 388:2016 now incorporates a more accurate test for cut protection alongside several other small changes. This new standard uses letters rather than numbers to rate the performance level of the glove when protecting the wearer against the dangers from blade cut (C) and impact (P). When gloves have impact protection under EN 388:2016, this means they have been tested according to the EN 13594:2015 test method.


The one test that has caused the most confusion is the test for cut resistance. This used to be scored from 0 to 5; with score of 5 being the highest level of cut resistance available. This has now changed with scores ranging from A-F. The table below from the BSIF explains how what the score will look like on your safety gloves. If one of these characters is replaced with an ‘X’ it means that the test has not been performed or is not applicable.

How have Safety Glove Ratings Changed,EN 388 EN 388 Protective Gloves Table

The testing methods are quite comprehensive and you can read more about these processes here.

What were the main changes from EN 388:2003 to EN 388:2016?

When EN 388:2016 was updated, some of the tests from the 2003 version remained unchanged whereas others have been improved to provide a more true to life test method. It is important to note that it is not the performance of the glove that has changed, but the methods of testing the performance.

Are scores for safety gloves different from safety ratings?

Yes! The safety rating of EN 388:2016 covers the requirements, test methods and labelling of safety gloves against mechanical risks when carrying out work. Meanwhile the scores relate to the performance of a specific glove when undertaking a specific test, eg. the coup test.

I’m unsure about what safety gloves I need

It is vital that you are wearing the correct level of safety gloves that will provide you with optimum protection from your workplace hazards. Clad Safety are a major distributor for Traffi who are renowned for their unique traffic light colour coding system. This means their gloves alternate in colour based on the level of cut-resistance on offer; red being cut level A, amber cut level B, green offering protection for levels C to F when measured against the EN388: 2016 test for cut resistance. The coding system ensures an easy solution for on-site compliance checks where multiple site workers are involved.

If you are unsure about the exact safety gloves you need for you and your team you can read Clad Safety’s Handy Guide To Gloves or contact us on [email protected] to speak to one of our technical experts.

What gloves should I buy for Cut Levels A – F?

Cut Level A


Cut Level B


Cut Level C


Cut Level D


Cut Level E


Cut Level F