Workwear, Street Furniture & Waste Management Specialist

Rules, standards and CE markings

If a protective glove is deemed to meet the safety requirements and is given a CE mark in an EU country, it can be exported and sold throughout the EU zone. To meet the requirements, the manufacturer has to comply with a number of EN standards. An EN standard includes demands, testing methods and requirements as to how the product is to be labelled in addition to the CE mark, and also sets out what the manufacturer’s instructions for use must contain.


Explanation of the risk categories


EU Directive 89/686/EEC divides personal protective equipment into three categories, depending on the level of risk involved. The greater the risk to which the user is exposed, the tougher the test requirements are concerning the gloves’ protective ability and certification. Since the EU Directive regulations are framed in general terms, European standards have been developed that specify requirements, test methods and marking instructions. One such standard is EN 420, which lists general requirements for protective gloves.


Category i / simple design


This category covers gloves used for work with minimum risks that can be identified in good time. This includes for instance gloves with less stringent requirements as to mechanical durability and gloves that are required to protect against hot objects. Gloves of a more basic type such as gardening gloves and assembly gloves belong in this category. The manufacturer must be able to show that the product meets the basic requirements for protective gloves (in accordance with EN 420), and is responsible for guaranteeing the CE marking. This applies to all protective gloves.


Category ii / intermediate design


Many protective gloves belong in this category, such as gloves where the requirements include mechanical durability to protect against, for example blade cuts. If gloves are to be given a CE mark, the manufacturer must be able to show that the product meets both the basic requirements and further standards that may apply to specific areas of use, such as welding gloves. The gloves must be tested by an approved laboratory and be type-approved by a notified body that issues certificates. Gloves in Category II must be marked with a pictogram, i.e., a symbol showing what the glove has been tested against and at what performance level. If the glove is intended to protect against mechanical risks (in accordance with EN 388), a four-figure code is shown beside or beneath the pictogram. These figures denote performance levels from tests against abrasion, blade cuts, tearing and puncture.


Category iii / complex design


These gloves can offer protection against things like highly hazardous substances. They are required to protect against permanent damage in situations where the user may have difficulty detecting the risks in time. This includes for instance gloves that protect against heat (above +100°) and extreme cold (below -50°) and gloves used for handling most chemicals. The gloves must be tested by an approved laboratory and be type-approved by a notified body. A further requirement is a yearly inspection of the production process and the gloves will be properly checked to ensure the right quality. Not until this is done may the gloves be given a CE mark. The notified body’s identity code (four figures) is to be placed directly after the CE mark, i.e. CE 0123.


Protective gloves – general requirements and test methods (en 420)


Summary of the requirements


  • The gloves must have been made so as to provide the protection they are intended for.
  • The seams and edges must not cause harm to the user.
  • The gloves must be easy to put on and take off.
  • The material must not harm the user.
  • The pH of the gloves should be between 3.5 and 9.5.
  • Chromium (VI) content should be below 3 mg/kg in leather gloves.
  • The manufacturer must state whether the glove contains substances that may cause allergies.
  • The protective quality of the glove must not be affected if the washing instructions are followed.
  • The gloves must allow maximum finger mobility (dexterity), given the need for protection.



Circumference of hand (mm)

Length (mm)

Minimum length of glove (mm)


























It is important to choose the right glove size (see table above). Using gloves that are too large may increase the risk of accident. The sizing system in the above table is based on hand size, i.e., circumference and length. The standard also specifies requirements for resistance to water penetration, which is measured where necessary. In the case of anti-static gloves, special rules apply.


Marking requirements


Each glove is to be marked with:


  • The name of the manufacturer.
  • The designation, e.g., TEGERAR 9232.
  • The size.
  • The CE mark.


Gloves belonging to Category II and Category III must also be marked with the following:


  • A pictogram denoting the type of risk that the glove has been tested for.
  • The performance level and the reference to the relevant EN standard, e.g. 388, next to the pictogram.
  • The four-figure code after the CE mark (only applies to protective gloves in Category III – High Risk).


Requirements concerning instructions for use


1This pictogram shows that instructions for use are included with the gloves’ packaging. The instructions should be readily available at the workplace and contain:


  • The name and address of the manufacturer or representative.
  • The glove and size designation.
  • Reference to the EN standard that the glove has been tested against.
  • An explanation of the pictogram and the mark.
  • Information on substances in the glove that may cause allergies.
  • Care & storage instructions.
  • Guidance on disposal of the glove after use.
  • Instructions on limitations of use.
  • Warnings concerning any mechanical or thermal risks and/or chemical health hazards.
  • Information on which chemicals have been tested and up to which level (applies to chemical protection gloves). Refers to the chemicals that form the basis for certification; others are available separately.


Protective gloves against mechanical risks (en 388)


EN 388This pictogram shows that the glove is intended to give protection against mechanical hazards. In order to be marked with this pictogram, the glove must be tested in accordance with standard EN 388 and must be approved by a notified body. Here, the glove’s resistance to abrasion, cutting, tearing and puncture is tested. These particular properties have been chosen since they largely reflect reality. After the tests, the glove is given a performance level rating for each and every one of the mechanical risks listed. This rating is on the scale of 1-5. The highest rating is 4 or 5. The glove is marked with the rating figures from the test and the numerical code is displayed alongside the pictogram. The glove’s ability to protect against mechanical risks of various kinds is tested in the following ways:


  1. Resistance to wear


The material of the glove is abraded with sandpaper under pressure and the number of cycles required to wear a hole in the material is measured. The highest performance level is 4, which corresponds to 8,000 cycles.


  1. Resistance to cutting


Here, the test involves measuring the number of cycles required for a circular knife rotating at constant speed to cut through the glove. The result is compared with a reference material and an index figure is established. The highest performance level is 5, which corresponds to an index of 20.


  1. Tear resistance


An incision is made in the glove material. The amount of force required to tear the material apart is then measured. The highest performance level is 4, which corresponds to a force of 75 N.


  1. Puncturing resistance


The test involves measuring the amount of force required to pierce the glove with a standard sized point and at a given speed (10 cm/min). Here, the highest performance level is 4, which corresponds to a force of 150 N.



(Maximum performance)

A) Resistance to wear (No. of revolutions)


B) Resistance to cutt ing (Index)


C) Tear resistance (Newton)


D) Puncturing resistance (Newton)



Level of protection






A) Resistance to wear (No. of revolutions)





B) Resistance to cutting (Index)






C) Tear resistance (Newton)





D) Puncturing resistance (Newton)






The table shows what requirements apply at each performance level.


WARNING If you work with moving machine parts, choosing a glove that is the right size and made from a less durable material is vital, since the glove easily tears apart if you get caught in the machinery.