EN 420:2003+A1:2009 - Protective gloves - General requirements and test methods

This standard defines the general requirements and relevant test procedures for glove design and construction, resistance to water penetration, innocuousness, comfort and dexterity, marking, and information supplied by the manufacturer that is applicable to all protective gloves. This European Standard does not address the protective properties of gloves and therefore should be used in combination with the appropriate European standards.

This standard describes the following requirements:
• Gloves must offer the greatest possible degree of protection
• If the glove features seams, they should not reduce the glove’s performance
• pH levels should be between 3.5 and 9.5
• Chromium (VI) content should be below detection (< 3ppm)
• Natural rubber gloves should be tested on extractable proteins to ensure they do not cause allergic reactions
• If cleaning instructions are provided, the level of performance must not be reduced even after the maximum number of washes

EN 420 also concerns the glove’s overall fit and feel by testing:
• Sizing and length
• Finger dexterity 

Sample gloves are suspended from their middle fingers and measured from the fingertip to the bottom of the cuff to determine their length. EN 420 includes a list of minimum lengths for each glove size. Variances (i.e., gloves designed for specific purposes) are permitted provided the manufacturer can demonstrate the design’s intent.

Overall glove sizing and dexterity are also tested. Gloves are fitted on the appropriate hand sizes. The wearer will then try to pick up pins of varying sizes to measure the glove’s dexterity. These pins range in size from 5mm to 11mm in diameter; the smaller the diameter, the greater the glove’s dexterity.

The levels of performance are as follows: 1 = minimum, 2 = good, 3 = very good, 4 and 4+ = excellent, 0 = no protection, X = performance not measured.

Working gloves are divided into three categories:
Category I: Gloves designed to protect against minimal risks only
Examples of glove types are household gloves for cleaning and for protection against warm objects or temperatures that do not exceed 50⁰C, gloves for gardening, and light duty cotton or leather gloves. The gloves are tested and certified in accordance with EN 420. This standard defines the general requirements for protective gloves and establishes a guarantee for CE marking. Manufacturers are permitted to test and certify gloves themselves.

Category II: Gloves designed to protect against intermediate risks
Gloves in this category provide protection against risks that are more severe that minimal but not considered mortal. These gloves must be subjected to independent testing and certification by a Notified Body, who then issues a CE marking indicating the glove’s protective capacities. Gloves in this category are general handling gloves requiring good puncture and abrasion performance in accordance with EN 388.

Category III: Gloves with complex designs that protect against irreversible injuries and mortal risks
Gloves in this category are designed to protect against the highest levels of risk (e.g. highly corrosive acids) and must be independently tested and certified by a Notified Body approved by the European Commission.