A guide to glove safety

Researching gloves can feel like a hazardous task in itself! That’s why we’ve compiled this short guide to help you on your way.

EN 420 is the standard by which every safety glove must be tested against, it proves to the user that the glove will not harm them and that it will be comfortable to wear. This applies to both disposable and reusable gloves.

In order to fully qualify as EN 420 standard the glove must be tested and pass in these four main areas:

  • Innocuousness – ensures it has a comfortable fit and does not damage the wearer including; adhering to the standard size guide, allowing an efficient level of dexterity and has a pH between 9.5-3.5.
  • Anti-static and Water Vapour – a series of tests are carried out to confirm this.
  • Packaging and Instructions – certain information must be available for the user to access such as; manufacturer, size, EN standard and care/ storage guidance.
  • Symbol on the Glove:

EN 420

This symbol must be present on the back of all EN 420 gloves.

Once these terms are met the glove may continue to be tested to become a EN 374, EN 455 etc.

EN 374

When working with chemicals you put yourself at extremely high risk therefore its essential to make sure that you are efficiently protected. The best way to do this is to source equipment that is specifically tailored to the chemicals that you encounter.

An EN 420 will not offer sufficient protection against hazardous products alone, you will need chemical-resistant gloves that are tested against a standard called EN 374.

EN 374 gloves were last modified in 2016 and are a chemically resistant glove standard. This means that they are safe to use in high-risk environments. The gloves are tested against a vigorous scope of chemicals whilst assessed on their permeability, breakthrough time, shrinkage etc.

There are five different sections of the EN 374 glove standard.

EN 374 – 1: Protective Gloves Against Chemicals and Microorganisms

ISO 374-1

This image identifies a EN 374-1 glove, the letters at the bottom correspond to the chemicals that it is resistant to.

Gloves tested on this standard are exposed to 18 different types of chemical then awarded an A, B or C certification to display its level of resistance. Most chemical gloves are tested on this standard.

EN 374 – 2: Determination to Resistance to Penetration

This test identifies the glove’s resistance to penetration by chemicals. It involves filling the glove with water/ air and assessing any breakage or shrinkage.

Glove Standards

EN 374 – 3: Determination of Resistance to Permeation by Chemicals replaced by EN 16523

EN 374-2

This test checks how long it will take a glove to degrade.

EN 374 – 4: Determination of Resistance to Degradation by Chemicals

EN 374-2

This test checks how long it will take a glove to degrade.

EN 374 – 5: Terminology and Performance Requirements for Microorganism Risks

EN ISO 374-5
EN ISO 375-5 Virus

The last test determines the gloves suitability for contact with biological agents gloves that pass this test will display one of these symbols.

All EN 374 gloves can be trusted to give you optimum protection, they are certified by an independent European body that was set up by the European Union to ensure a high standard of glove safety.

EN 455

Access to safe, affordable PPE has never been more important. If you are working in a medical environment you will require gloves as part of your attire that provide protection, comfort and are disposable. EN 455 standard gloves are specially tested to protect you and others; they stop the user from encountering any bodily fluids/ bacteria whilst simultaneously keeping patients safe from infections.

There are four main areas that these gloves must pass:


The gloves are filled with water and assessed for leakage.

Hazardous Materials

They must be made without any materials that may cause an allergic reaction or trigger a fever.


EN 455 gloves are used in high impact sectors and must be thin enough to allow dexterity (a doctor needs to be able to use medical instruments effectively) and strong enough to withstand any potential rips.

Shelf Life

EN 455 gloves must have a shelf life of no longer than five years when the gloves efficiency may be compromised.

These tests ensure that the best protection is provided. If you are buying gloves for an at home first aid kit EN 455 gloves are recommended over cheap alternatives to best protect you and others.

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