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Cut Protection 101: Understanding the Basics

Posted by Medsafe on Feb 20, 2017 7:30:00 AM

So, you’ve got yourself some cut-resistant gloves. Good for you. That’s worth something if you’re looking to live the #SafetyLife, right? But the term “cut-resistant” is kind of vague. Exactly how much resistance is it referring to? Do they resist every kind of cut hazard?

These are important questions. In order for safety gloves to actually protect their wearers instead of just making them look like they care about safety, some equally important answers are needed.


Some universally recognized standards for cut resistance have been established to pull the guesswork out of cut protection and provide some exact answers. It’s a safe bet that you’re not alone in needing the exact answers for these questions. Let’s talk about the two most relevant standards.


ASTM/ANSI 105 – The American Society for Testing and Materials and the American National Standards Institute Rating system uses a ranged scale (A1- A9). This standard has separate ratings for cut and abrasion resistance and it’s the only cut resistance rating required in the U.S.

You may have also seen EN388 ratings on gloves. This is a European-based cut protection rating system. This internationally recognized rating tests abrasion, cut, tear and puncture resistance. Because of the different types of tests used to create these ratings (1-5), they’ve also become a more prominent feature on gloves right here in the U.S. 


Choosing the right level of protection for your task:


There are many factors that play into deciding the right level of protection for each job. In order to give you a good starting point, you’ll want to factor in these three basic options:


1. Environment: No matter how good the cut resistance is on a glove, it can only work effectively if used in the proper environments. Temperature in the area a worker is exposed to and the temperature of the materials to be handled are important factors. Whether wet or oily conditions could be present should be accommodated for as well any other industry specific factors.

2. Material: Certain materials will be more appropriate than others depending on the task at hand. Latex, leather and cotton offer a low level of protection, Synthetics and engineered materials such as Dyneema® or Kevlar® offer a much higher level of protection, while metal mesh offers the highest.

3. Cut Level: Calculating the level of risk involved with a task will help decide which level of protection is best.


Here’s a simple breakdown that provides examples of the right type of glove protection level.


Cut Level: A1
Category: Minor Cut Risk
Example tasks: Parts Assembly, Material Handling, Maintenance Work

Cut Level: A2 –A3
Category: Low Cut Risk
Example tasks: Packaging, Light Masonry, General Construction

Cut Level: A4 – A5
Category: Moderate Cut Risk
Example tasks: Fabrication, Light-duty Glass Handling, Light-duty Stamping

Cut Level: A6 – A7
Category: High Cut Risk
Example tasks: Sheet Metal Work, Glass Handling, Automotive Assembly, General Food Processing

Cut Level: A8 – A9
Category: Extreme Cut Risk
Example tasks: Heavy Metal Stamping, Meat and Poultry Processing, HVAC, Plate Glass Work


This list barely scratches the surface of cut-resistance. For more in-depth information on choosing the right glove for you, download our Free Facility Hand Protection Guide. This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth guide to the right gloves for specific tasks and explains the science behind some of the best cut protection technology available on the market today.

The Facility Hand Protection Guide eBook Download


The Facility Hand Protection Guide breaks down helpful cut-protection information industry by industry, providing you a comprehensive guide to making the best cut protection decision. Use your head. Protect your hands. Get the facts about cut protection. Download your free copy today.

Topics: Hand Protection, Facility Safety

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