EN388- CUT PROTECTION REVISION
In 2013, official figures (1) highlight a decrease of work accident and lost time among the 19 million workers. This result highlight the outstanding work made by all stakeholder in health and safety: safety managers, procurement, improvement of security awareness and new PPE technologies, regulation...
Even though there is an ongoing decrease, when looking deeper into the accidents figure, it is a statement of fact that total work accidents number still be desperately high in 2013(1):
• 19 000 000 workers
• 626 000 work accidents
• 38 166 701: Number of lost working days due to accidents
• 3 273€ : Average cost of lost day
Regarding the breakdown of occupational accidents depending on the area of injury, we know that 20% concerns hand injuries. Factually, what does it mean?
• 126 018 hand injuries over the 626 000 work accidents
• 43% of hand injuries is caused by cut and laceration
• 4 595 253 lost working days involves hand injuries
• 59% of accidents origin is manual handling
Therefore, from manufacturing stand point, only new technologies and prevention are key factor for reducing the number of casualties. Moreover, an accident is a form of important social and economic trauma that affects everyone involved, the company, the employer and the employee, everyone is affected. International safety association study that with a relevant safety program and risks prevention, 71% of arm and hand injuries could have been prevented with relevant personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically Cut Protection gloves. Indeed, wearing the right cut protective glove make the difference to protect workers from a variety of threats: cuts and lacerations from the rough and sharp edges of building, materials such as glass, brick and roofing, metal sheets…
EN388 standard under revision to improve cut protection level performance
To evaluate a glove cut level, manufacturer use the EN388: 2003. However, it is very common in gloves that are blended with fibre glass, that fibre glass “blunts” the Coup test by dulling the blade. The range of performance that gloves can score and still qualify for EN388 cut level 4 to 5 is so varied that the The European Standard stated that when looking for high levels of cut protection (EN388: level 4 and 5), considering the results of other test methods, such as ISO 13997 test method, is an alternative to cross-validate a glove cut level performance.
From an alternative, ISO test methods will become a compulsory test within the EN388 standards. European EN388 standard project stated that in the near future (2016), when standard would have been revised, agree and voted, EN388 standard will add a new performance level on EN388 score with the ISO 13997 test. Results will be categorized and display as follow:
| ||Level A||Level B||Level C||Level D||Level E||Level F||Level G||Level H||Level I|
|EN ISO 13997||2||5||10||15||22||30||40||50||60|
These Newton values are still to be validated by European committee
The protective gloves according to this standard shall first meet all the applicable requirements of EN420. A protective glove against mechanical risks shall have performance level of 1 or above for at least one of the properties (abrasion, blade cut, tear and puncture) and will require level A for the ISO cut resistance test; classified according to the minimum requirements for each level shown in table.
The positioning of the pictogram and performance level of the values relative to each other must comply with EN420
At SHOWA, for gloves with high levels of cut protection (EN388 4 or 5), we’ve always used the ISO 13997 test methods as a compulsory test to provide to our customer a detailed a realistic view of gloves cut performance. In compliance with tests to ISO 13997 standards, this value must be expressed as the cutting load in Newtons (N). This test method concerns the pressures exercised on fibres when cutting risks are high.
To provide better individual protection against cuts, SHOWA has been innovative by creating its own anti-cut fibres for protecting hands, such as Hagane Coil® used in S-TEX Series. This patented fibre combines Hagane stainless steel with polyester and/or aramid fibres to provide high levels of protection against cuts ranging from 20 Newton’s (2 000 gm) to 40 Newton’s (4 100 gm) as per standard ISO 13997.
In conclusion, for health and safety manager who want to reduce cut injuries and mainly for high cut resistance needs, it is important to keep in mind that all cut test methods can show important differences in results, related to variability in test machines, strength exerted on the samples, sharpness of the edge of the blade… As matter of fact, manufacturer, recommend you to always ask for the alternative ISO 13997 test results as complement information to take a more informed decision about hand protection against cut hazards before buying any cut protective glove to avoid placing hands and arms of workers at danger.
It is a true interesting evolution of cut protection that the PPE sector will challenge. It force manufacture to improve their quality and resistance of material using new technologies to offer the best protection but also to improve awareness and prevention from user side. More cut resistance, better protection and new technologies will benefit the all ecosystem of health and safety.