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Cut-resistant clothing: No cutting corners

05 November 2019

Companies producing or processing glass should be aware of an updated performance standard, against which manufacturers of cut-resistant clothing should test their garments, explains CutPRO.

However, CutPRO says, driven by a hunger for profits and blind sense of competition, some companies across Europe are prepared to risk the safety of workers in the glass production industry by neglecting even the clearest legal requirements. Some manufacturers, it says, still tend to believe that CE marking is somewhat optional. 

Robert Kaiser, CEO of UK-based CutPRO, states: “As a supplier of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) it is a legal duty to ensure that all products sold are compliant with European laws. This is to guarantee the health, safety and well-being of those wearing the products.”

“The supporting law within Europe is Regulation (EU) 2016/425 which clearly states that all PPE must be CE certified. There is no question about it, not to comply with this law is a direct breach of not only European law but the laws of that member state. “

Robert Kaiser offers a simplified, condensed version, highlighting the key points of this European regulation: “All clothing to be worn or held by any end user to offer any type of protection is PPE and as such must be CE certified for sale in the European Union.“

“If one’s customer is using the clothing for protection and/or to improve the health and safety of the wearer at a workplace then they should be using appropriately CE market products.”

“One is not allowed to sell anything within the EU that could be defined as PPE without appropriate CE marking.”

Companies producing or processing glass should be aware that there is a new performance standard. EN 388:2016 is a more stringent updated standard in comparison to the previous EN 388:2003 and offers the end consumer a much more realistic ‘real life’ result.

The main change is that the garments will now be tested to both a circular blade and a straight blade cut. Circular blade testing is now carried out for more cycles than previously, which means that it is harder for garments to achieve a higher level of cut resistance. This means that under the new standard, a glove’s/garment’s cut resistance may appear lower in 2016 than it did in 2003. 

Garments will now receive between a Level A and a Level F, with Level F being the highest that a glove can achieve. The highest levels of cut resistance under the new standard (Level C to Level F) are more comprehensive and accurate.

The abrasion testing is now carried out using different test paper. As a result, cut resistant garments may receive a lower score under EN 388:2016 to the score originally awarded under EN 388:2003.

There is no change in the testing procedure of the puncture resistance. However, the EN 388:2016 is still relevant. There is no guarantee that a garment made from a puncture resistant fabric will stop a sharp object, but such garment has a much better chance of preventing or reducing an injury compared to a garment made from a fabric offering a low or no puncture resistance. 

European glass companies purchasing cut-resistant clothing will have identified a realistic risk to the safety of their workforce. The legal requirements for this type of clothing to be CE certified and for it to be tested against the latest available performance standard is of utmost importance.