General information on protective gloves

All protective gloves must comply with EN 420 – General Requirements for Gloves. The only exceptions are for electrician’s gloves and single use gloves (medical disposable gloves). The minimum requirements for a glove are regulated by EN 420. An information brochure with the instructions for storage and transport, cleaning, handling and disposal accompany each glove. In this basic standard, the limits for chromium trioxide (max. 3 mg/kg) and the pH value are stated.


In order to meet the most varied requirements, protective gloves are classified into 3 categories:


Category I

Minimal risks

Low protection requirement, e.g. protection against debris, for garden work

Category II

Medium risks

Protection against, e.g. mechanical hazard

Category III

High risks

Protection against irreversible damage and fatal dangers e.g. damage from chemicals, heat, cold, radiation, electric current


Included in the category are the regulations for the approval and documentation on the products. The basic requirements are regulated in the Directive 89/686/EEC on personal protective equipment and the products are classified into categories.





Category I

Declaration of Conformity

Category II

Declaration of Conformity
+ EC Type Examination Certificate

Category III



Declaration of Conformity
+ EC Type Examination Certificate
+ annual validation of conformity on the end product



Declaration of Conformity
+ EC Type Examination Certificate
+ Monitoring the quality assurance system through appointed bodies

The manufacturer of protective gloves must present the corresponding documentation on request.


Overview of standards

Labelling of gloves

Category I

CE label
Article number-
Article designation
Manufacturer address

Category II

CE label
Article number-
Article designation
Manufacturer address
Pictograms with level

Category III

CE label / Identification number of the monitoring institute
Article number-
Article designation
Manufacturer address
Pictograms with level


Beyond Category II, the performance level, with the corresponding pictogram, must be put on the

- protective glove
- user information
- packaging

Only when these requirements have been met, can you be sure that you are being provided with a protective glove according to Category II or higher. The sequencing of the performance levels must be maintained and the digits must be specified on the glove as well as the pictogram of the special standard. The higher the level value, the better the respective protection performance. Level X means that testing on this glove cannot be carried out.

EN 388 – Protective gloves for mechanical risks

EN 374 – Protective gloves for chemical and bacteriological risks

The new version of EN 374 has been valid since 2004, according to which a chemical protective glove must reach a permeation level of 2 (see following page) for at least 3 of 12 given test chemicals.

Protective gloves for chemical hazards with information (complete chemical protection). Waterproof protective gloves with low protection against chemical hazards (“simple chemical protection”).

A chemical protective glove protects against bacteria and fungi if the protective glove has at least a penetration level of 2. A chemical protective glove labelled “only” with a beaker, can by all means be effective against defined hazardous substances.  

In this regard, a clear declaration on the resistance of this protective glove is required from the manufacturer in the case of contact with a hazardous substance.

Definition of the terms in EN 374


Permeation is the molecular penetration into the protective glove. On a molecular level, a protective glove may be penetrated within minutes.

Level 1 ≥  10 min.
Level 2 ≥  30 min.
Level 3 ≥  60 min.
Level 4 ≥  120 min.
Level 5 ≥  240 min.
Level 6 ≥  480 min.

Warning: Permeation begins as early as the first contact with a chemical.

In order to determine the exact wearing duration of a chemical protective glove, testing according to the standard is not sufficient. Factors such as temperature and stretching have a great influence on the duration of resistance. A safety margin of 25% is thus recommended.


Penetration is the macroscopic penetration into the glove. This means that the chemical protective glove has a hole or a tear.

The standard ISO 2859-1:1989 states the exact sample size and the acceptance and rejection number for the respective AQL (Acceptance Quality Limit) value.

If the AQL value is e.g. 1.5 (= Level 2), according ISO 2859-1:1989, ≤  1.5 defective units per 100 units are permissible.


Swelling can take place regardless of permeation and penetration. Since a swollen protective glove is unusable, only protective gloves with low swelling should be used. The swelling is determined by the respective chemicals with which the protective glove comes into contact.

EN 407 – Protective gloves for thermal risks

This standard defines the thermal properties of protective gloves for protecting against heat and/or flames. At the same time, it is prescribed to use at least Level 1 for abrasion and tear resistance according to EN 388 for protective gloves for thermal risks.

Protective gloves according to EN 407 should be of low flammability. The protective glove material should only conduct heat slowly in order to ensure a protective effect against radiation, convection and contact heat. However, it must have a high temperature resistance (no melting, shrinking or disintegrating during temperature exposure).

EN 407 provides information in the form of six levels regarding the behaviour of the protective glove when exposed to heat and flames:

A Burning behaviour
This level provides information regarding the time at which the material continues to burn or glow after the flames have been withdrawn from the test body. The seams of the protective glove must not disintegrate after a burning time of 15 seconds. 

B Contact heat
The most important level in this standard is contact heat. This includes the swelling value time in seconds at fixed contact temperature (100, 250, 350 und 500 °C), where the increase should not be more than 10 °C in 15 seconds.
Since in practice the contact duration or even the exact temperature of the material is not always known, the level should always be increased for contact heat. Heat sensitivity is very individual; the glove wearers thus must always perform a trial wear. 

C Convection heat
The level provides information regarding the time period for which a protective glove can delay the heat transfer from a flame. A performance level is only specified when Level 3 or 4 is reached during burning behaviour.

D Radiation heat
This level provides information regarding the time period for which a protective glove can delay the heat transfer from a radiation heat source. A performance level is only specified when Level 3 or 4 is reached during burning behaviour.

E Resistance to small splashes of liquid metal
The level provides information regarding the number of drops of liquid metal which are required to heat the inside of the protective glove by 40 °C. A performance level is only specified when Level 3 or 4 is reached during burning behaviour.

F Resistance to large amounts of liquid metal
This level provides information regarding the amount of liquid metal that would be required to damage PVC foil stretched behind a protective glove (which is intended to simulate human skin). This test is carried out with molten iron, however, it must be carried out with other metals as required. A performance level is only specified when Level 3 or 4 is reached during burning behaviour.

prEN 16350 – Protective gloves for electrostatic risks

The new prEN 16350 for protective gloves for electrostatic risks is the first standard which sets explicit requirements for protective gloves which are worn in areas where there is a potential risk of explosion. Up to now, the standard for protective clothing was used for protective gloves. The new standard requires that additional requirements be met for protective gloves, which are worn in areas where there is a risk of explosion. In order to keep the danger of explosion as low as possible, test procedures, test criteria, a label, as well as an obligation to provide information in relation to protective gloves with electrostatic discharge capacity, are specified.

Foodstuff handling and processing

When using protective gloves for foodstuff handling and processing, particular regulations must be observed. At European level, the Regulation No. 1935/2004/EEC on materials and objects intended to come into contact with foodstuffs applies. This establishes basic requirements for products and also applies to PPE. In Germany, these regulations have been implemented with the foodstuffs and consumer goods law (in future the Food and Feed Code). Protective gloves undergo an additional test and must not deposit any constituent parts on the foodstuff. 

If the protective glove meets the guidelines, a corresponding pictogram is put on the packaging. The pictogram can then be used according to 1935/2004/EEC or alternatively, a national law (for example the RAL mark).

Special note: According to the guideline, it sufficient for the provider of the protective gloves to be able to show supplier confirmations.

EN 60903 – Electrician’s protective gloves

EN 60903 contains all requirements for effective protection against electric current.




For electrician’s protective gloves, repeat tests are prescribed. Protective gloves should undergo a test when the last electrical test was carried out more than 6 months beforehand.


Classes 00 and 0Test on air holes and visual inspection sufficient
Classes 1 to 4Test on air holes and visual inspection and electrical test


The protective gloves must be individually packaged. The packaging must be strong enough to protect the protective glove against damage and sunlight. The label for the protective glove must also be put on the packaging. 
Protection against dangerous electric arcs

Occupational accidents caused by electric arcs are rather infrequent, however often end tragically. Severe burns or death, caused by extreme heat and explosive pressure waves are the outcomes in most cases.

The resulting fireball (flames, heat radiation, hot metal splashes, pressure waves) acts in an explosive manner only very briefly, in the range of 0.5 to 1 s, however, it is very energetic depending on the short circuit capacity. The temperatures at the centre of the flames reach up to 50,000 °C.

July 2012 Draft DIN IEC 61482-1-1 on protective clothing against thermal dangers from electric arcs Part 1: Test process – Process 1: Determining the parameters of the electric arc (ATPV or E BT) from non flammable clothing materials. 

Test parameters

The distance between the electrodes must be 30 ± 1 mm, the distance between the central line of the electric arc and the surface of the test piece must be 300 ± 5 mm.

July 2012 Draft DIN IEC 61482-1-2
Process 2: Determining the electric arc protection class of the material and the clothing using a forced and directed electric arc (Test chamber process, box)

BGR 195 – Use of protective gloves

Guidelines from laws and ordinances are set out in concrete terms in this regulation of the professional associations. BGR 195 applies to the selection and use of protective gloves for protecting against damaging effects which are mechanical, thermal and chemical in nature as well as against microorganisms and ionising rays.

Below you will find an overview of the most important points for occupational safety from BGR 195.

Personal advice

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Further information