Making the Cut: An Insightful Guide to Cut Resistance Levels for Gloves

Discovering the Right Glove for the Job: ANSI and EN 388 Standards Explained

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding cut resistance levels is crucial for choosing the right gloves for your specific needs.
  • Both the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the European Commission (EN 388) provide industry-standardized ratings for glove cut resistance.
  • Different cut resistance levels cater to different professions and tasks, from heavy construction and rescue to catering and glass artistry.
  • Careful comparison and consideration of both ANSI and EN 388 ratings help ensure optimal hand protection.

Understanding Cut Resistance Levels: ANSI and EN 388 Standards

Cut resistance is a key factor when selecting the right gloves for the job. Two major organizations, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in the U.S. and the European Commission in Europe, have provided industry standards for cut resistance levels in gloves, known as the ANSI/ISEA 105 and EN 388 standards, respectively.

The American Standard: ANSI/ISEA 105

The ANSI, in collaboration with the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), updated their scale in 2016 to include nine levels of cut protection. These levels indicate how much cutting load a glove can withstand from a sharp object before penetration occurs. Ranging from A1 (200 – 499 grams) to A9 (6000+ grams), the levels are often displayed inside a shield-like badge on the glove.

The European Standard: EN 388

The European Commission’s EN 388 standard employs two different tests for cut resistance: the TDM-100 Test, similar to the one used by ANSI, and the Coup Test. When examining EN 388 cut levels, it’s important to consider both these ratings. The TDM-100 cut resistance levels range from A (2 – 4.9 newtons or 204 – 508 grams) to F (30+ newtons or 3059+ grams). The Coup Test results, however, are based on the material’s cut index, a ratio that compares the material’s cut resistance to that of cotton fabric. They can be a bit more complicated to interpret due to variables like blade dulling during testing.

Finding the Right Cut Resistance Level for Your Needs

The task at hand largely dictates the level of cut resistance required. Those in heavy-duty professions such as heavy construction, mining, and rescue may need gloves rated at the highest levels of cut resistance, A5 or higher (ANSI) or E to F (EN 388).

For jobs requiring a balance between cut resistance and dexterity, such as electrical work or jobs in recycling plants and salvage yards, mid-level cut resistance gloves, between A3 and A5 (ANSI) or C to E (EN 388), can offer the right blend of protection and flexibility.

For tasks where the risk of severe cuts and punctures is minimal, gloves with less cut resistance can suffice. Such professions could include glass artistry, some types of electrical work, and certain food industry jobs. These might require gloves rated at lower cut resistance levels, providing agility and comfort while still offering basic protection.


Understanding cut resistance levels is vital for making an informed decision about the right gloves for your job or task. While the standards may initially seem complex, with a bit of understanding, they provide valuable insight into the level of protection a glove can offer. Whether you’re following the ANSI or EN 388 standards, understanding cut resistance levels allows for a safer working environment. It’s always best to invest in the right protection – your hands are worth it.

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