Hand Protection Standards

Australian Standards

Historically, when developing and updating many Australian & New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS) for hand protection, Standards Australia have turned to their European (CE) counterparts and have adopted their standards for Australia. Additionally, standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), of which Standards Australia is a member, have also been adopted. Standards Australia draws on regional, national and international standards under the Australian Standard name.
This adoption can occur sometime after the relevant original standard has been published. A recent example is AS/NS 2161.3:2020. This standard adopted EN 388:2016 in November 2020, whereas it came into effect in Europe in late 2016. EN 388:2016 is a current European standard and now a current Australian & New Zealand standard.
The time delay is one reason why Graphex has always ensured its range is tested and certified to both AS/NZS and CE hand protection standards, ensuring products are always tested to the latest relevant standard, wherever they may originate.
What is more important than claiming your product meets the latest standard is that your product is certified to that standard.

The Difference Between Australian and European Standards

In Australia, there is no mandatory requirement for manufacturers who supply the Australian and New Zealand market with safety gloves featuring CE performance ratings for attributes such as cut and chemical resistance to provide evidence of testing and certification by an accredited Notified Body.

In Australia, glove manufacturers can undertake their testing and issue compliance statements. Gloves can and are usually sold as compliant only to the relevant standard. In Europe, this is not the case; all products designed to protect against medium-level risks, described by the EU as Category II & III, are subject to mandatory testing and certification by accredited testing authorities.

These stark differences have potentially serious implications. Without certification by a Notified Body, all product and performance claims cannot be independently verified. If they are not as claimed, this could have safety implications for the wearer and legal consequences for the supplier or even the employer who provides the PPE to their employees.

In April 2018, the European Regulation (EU) 2016/425 for personal protective equipment came into force and replaced the old PPE Directive 89/686/EEC. It covers the design, manufacture and marketing of personal protective equipment. It defines the legal obligations that ensure PPE in the EU market provides the highest levels of protection against risks. The Regulation does this in part by placing legal responsibilities upon the manufacturer and states:

  • All PPE must be certified to the latest relevant standard(s)
  • All PPE certificates now expire and must be periodically renewed to continue being valid
  • All PPE must be stored and transported appropriately so as not to compromise it in any way
  • Marketing material & product markings must be complete and accurate
  • Fitting & usage instructions and any limitations of use must be clearly printed
  • All PPE must be identical in every way to its Declaration of Conformity
  • The Declaration of Conformity must be available together with the product or available as a download via the online portal.

Manufacturers, importers and distributors alike are legally responsible for meeting the Regulation requirements and have a responsibility to highlight and/or withdraw any PPE they consider to be not meeting the Regulation.All Force360® and Graphex® gloves have updated to this Regulation through the certification process conducted by BSI Group. All the hand protection products’ Declaration of Conformity documents can be viewed online as part of the obligations under the Regulation.

Why do this when we are in Australia and there is no legal obligation to do so?

Graphex® believes in the world’s best practice, wherever that may be. Regulation (EU) 2016/425 helps assure that products are amongst the most scrutinized, tested, and evaluated products on the market. Adopting its ethos and following its procedures ensures all of Force360’s gloves provide peace of mind for our distributors, and most importantly, for the end-user wearing the product.

The Force360® and Graphex® range of hand protection is certified by BSI Group to the relevant Australian Standards, including AS/NZS 2161.3:2020 and all relevant European Standards, including the EN 388:2016 Standard.

AS/NZS 2161.2:2020 (EN ISO 21420:2020) - Protective gloves. General requirements and test methods

This standard adopts EN ISO 21420:2020 in its entirety, but makes minor modifications for the Australian market.

The new glove standard AS/NZS 2161.2:2020 has been introduced as a replacement for AS/NZS 2161.2:2005 and ensures the materials manufacturers of PPE use in their products do not adversely affect the health or safety of the user. It also responds to the growing trend in standardisation to address the topic of “innocuousness” and takes into consideration the requirements of the EU PPE Regulation in terms of the Essential Health and Safety aspects of Annex II.

AS/NZS 2161.2:2020 specifies the general requirements and relevant test procedures for glove design and construction, innocuousness, comfort and efficiency, as well as the marking and information supplied by the manufacturer applicable to all protective gloves.

Key Changes
  • Introduction of a new pictogram for electrostatic properties EN 16350
  • Removal of the protein content test in natural rubber gloves
  • Introduction of date of manufacture markings
  • Removal of minimal glove length requirements, unless required by a specific standard i.e. welding gloves
  • Other subtle changes concerning information for users, additional information on donning/doffing, product integrity checks before use
New Key Requirements
  • Chromium VI content in leather should be no more than 3mg/kg (Test method EN 17075)
  • Any metallic materials that could come into contact with the skin shall not release nickel in more than 0.5µg/cm2 per week (Test method EN 1811)
  • Azo colorants which release carcinogenic amines shall not be detectable (Test method ISO 17234-1 leather or ISO 14362-1 textile)
  • pH value shall be between 3.5-9.5 (Test method ISO 4045 leather or ISO 3071 textile)
  • DMF (dimethylformamide) shall not exceed 0.1% weight/weight (Test method as per EN 16778)
  • The levels of performance should be based on the lowest results obtained before and after cleaning cycles (consideration of care instructions for testing)
  • For gloves being worn in explosive environments, the electrostatic properties shall be tested (Test method EN 16350)
Requirements to meet AS/NZS 2161.2:2020
Glove construction and design
  • Gloves have to offer the greatest possible degree of protection in the foreseeable conditions of end use
  • When seams are included, the strength of these seams should not reduce the overall performance of the glove
  • The gloves themselves shouldn’t cause any harm to the user
  • pH value shall be between 3.5-9.5 (Test ISO 4045 leather or ISO 3071 textile)
  • Chromium VI content in leather should be no more than 3mg/kg (Test EN 17075)
  • Natural rubber gloves shall be tested on extractable proteins as per EN 455-3
  • Azo colorants which release carcinogenic amines shall not be detectable (Test method ISO 17234-1 leather or ISO 14362-1 textile)
  • DMFa (dimethylformamide) shall not exceed 0.1% weight/weight (Test method as per EN 16778)
  • Any metallic materials that could come into contact with the skin shall not release nickel in more than 0.5µg/cm2 per week (Test method EN 1811)
Cleaning Instructions
  • The levels of performance should be based on the lowest results obtained before and after cleaning cycles (consideration of care instructions for testing)
Electrostatic Properties
  • Anti-static gloves that are designed to reduce the risk of electrostatic discharges shall be tested as per EN 1149
  • For gloves being worn in explosive environments, the electrostatic properties shall be tested (Test method EN 16350)
  • Obtained test values are to be reported on the instructions for use
  • An electrostatic pictogram shall NOT be used
Water Vapour Transmission and Absorption
  • If required, gloves shall allow water vapour transmission (5mg/cm2/hr)
  • If a glove excludes water vapour transmission, it should be at least 8mg/cm2 for 8 hrs
Marking and Information

Each glove should be marked with:

  • Name of manufacturer
  • Glove and size designation
  • Date of manufacturing (month & year) (where applicable)
  • CE mark
  • Appropriate pictograms accompanied by the relevant performance levels and the reference of the EN standard

Each glove should be marked with:

  • Name and address of the manufacturer or representative
  • Glove and size designation
  • CE mark
  • Usage info

- simple design: ‘for minimal risks only’ or

- intermediate design or complex design: relevant pictograms

Each glove should be marked with:

  • Name and address of the manufacturer or representative
  • Glove designation
  • Size range available
  • CE mark
  • Care and storage instruction
  • Instructions and limitations of use
  • A list of substances used in the glove which are known to cause allergies
  • A list of all substances in the glove shall be made available upon request
  • Name and address of notified body that certified the product

AS/NZS 2161.3:2020 (EN 388:2016) - Protective gloves against mechanical risks

This Australian standard adopted EN 388:2016,A1:2018 in its entirety and came into effect from November 2020. The standard specifies requirements, test methods, marking, and information to be supplied for protective gloves against the mechanical risks of abrasion, blade cut, tear, puncture and, if applicable, impact.

Test NameRating
Cut (Coup Test)1-5, X
Cut (TDM-100 Test)A-F
Impact ProtectionP, F, X
Abrasion Test

The abrasion resistance test is carried out using an instrument known as a Martindale tester. The material to be tested is placed on a bed, and a rubbing head of fixed size and pressure, covered with a standard abrasive material, is moved in a circular motion over the test specimen. Pending the abrasion cycle number to breakthrough, the glove receives a score of 1-4 as per the table.

As the abrasion-resistant test attempts to measure ‘wear’ or how long the glove may last during use, its performance score is essential. In the past, different laboratories may have used other abrasive papers on the tester and got varying scores as a result. Under the revised standard, all independent laboratories must now use a standardised abrasive pad in an attempt to ensure scores are more accurate and can be compared more effectively against each other.

Abrasion Resistance (Cycles)Performance Level Rating
Cut (Coup) Test

Until the EN 388:2016 standard was released, the ‘Coupe Blade Cut Test’ was the only standard test method for measuring cut protection. A rotating blade moves horizontally across a fabric sample with a fixed force of 5 Newtons. The test is complete when the blade breaks through the fabric, and the result is indicated as an index value. The index value is calculated from the number of cycles required to cut through the fabric as well as the wear and tear on the blade.

The blade is tested for any blunting after 60 cycles. If the blade is blunted after 60 cycles and no breakthrough is evident, or if this test is not carried out, it is recorded with an ‘X’.

Cut IndexPerformance Level Rating
Tear Test

The tear test is carried out by clamping four sample material swatches (taken from the glove’s palm) into a standard tensile strength testing machine. The machine moves apart at a speed of 100mm per minute, and the force required to tear the fabric is measured in Newtons. The value is recorded as the lowest value required to tear one of the four samples for single materials. In contrast, each layer is tested for multiple unbonded layers, and the result is taken from the lowest individual result of the most tear-resistant material.

Tear Resistance (Newtons)Performance Level Rating
Puncture Test

The puncture test is carried out by a compression test machine that pushes a 50mm rounded stylus through a sample cut from the glove’s palm at a speed of 100mm per minute. The maximum resistance force is recorded and used to give the performance level rating from 1 to 4.

Puncture Resistance (Newtons)Performance Level Rating
EN ISO 13997 Cut Test

Gloves engineered for cut resistance commonly have a blunting effect on blades; for this reason, additional cut tests must now be completed and verified. Any fabric that blunts the ‘Coupe Blade Cut Test’ blade will be marked with an X, and testing using the new EN ISO 13997 test should be carried out.

The new EN ISO 13997 is designed to represent the real-life cut risk experienced in the workplace; this is achieved by applying the sample fabric with great force in a single horizontal movement. The sharp-edge blade is moved along the fabric sample in a single pass, allowing the accurate calculation of the minimum force required to cut the sample material at a distance of 20mm.

EN ISO Cut ResistancePerformance Level Rating
Impact Test

The impact test is a new addition to EN 388:2016 and is a pass/fail optional test. It is the resistance to a 2.5kg weight impacting 5J (Joules) energy onto the glove. The material may not fracture or split and is measured following EN 13594:2015 as either Pass (P) or Fail (F).

If this test is not carried out, it is recorded with an ‘X’.

EN13594:2015Performance Level Rating
Fracture / SplitFail
No ChangePass

AS/NZS 2161.4:1999 (EN 407:2004) - Protective gloves against thermal risk (heat and/or fire)

This standard adopts EN 407:1994 in its entirety; Standards Australia have not updated it to EN 407:2020

European glove standard EN 407:2020 specifies requirements, test methods, marking and information for protective gloves and other protective hand equipment against thermal risks for professional use, consumer and/or domestic use. It is also applicable to PPE protecting the arm.

This test method is used for all gloves and other protective equipment which protect the hands or part of the hand against heat and/or fire in one or more of the following forms: flame, contact heat, convective heat, radiant heat, small splashes or large quantities of molten metal. It is only applicable in conjunction with EN ISO 21420:2020.

EN 407:2020 does not apply to gloves for fire-fighters or welding that have their own standards.

EN 407:2020 utilizes some new test methods and introduces a new symbol for gloves with no flame resistance. Traditionally, household gloves that protect from heat may be thought of as flame resistant under the previous pictogram system that shows a flame, even though they are not. The new pictogram has been developed and must be shown on all gloves claiming EN 407 thermal protection but do not reach level 1 flame spread.

Test NameRating
Limited Flame Spread1-4
Contact Heat Resistance1-4
Convective Heat Resistance1-4
Radiant Heat Resistance1-4
Small Splashes of Molten Metal1-4
Large Splashes of Molten Metal1-4

The nature and degree of protection are shown by a pictogram followed by a series of six performance levels that relate to specific protective qualities. The higher the number, the better the test result. The following product features are those tested relative to the specifications of this standard:

Limited Flame Spread

Method A of ISO 15025 is now used to determine the flame spread. A new test setup system for the testing machine has been defined to prevent glove shrinkage when the ignition flame is applied. After the flame is applied for 10 seconds, the after-flame time and after-glow constitute the test results scores as per the table. Three gloves must be tested. The lowest result gives the performance level (1-4).

Radiant Heat Resistance

Test method B described in EN ISO 6942 is used to determine the radiant heat resistance of a glove. Three 80×170mm specimens taken from the back of a glove must be tested. If a glove consists of multiple layers, a sample consisting of all the layers must be tested. The length of time the glove can delay the transfer of heat from a radiant heat source is measured and scored (1-4). A score, however, is only recorded if the glove additionally achieves a 3 or 4 in the limited flame spread test.

Contact Heat Resistance

The test method described in EN ISO 12127-1 is to be used to determine the contact heat resistance level of a glove. The entire glove (palm, fingers, etc.) and all its component materials must be tested. Three gloves must be tested. The glove shall protect the wearer from pain for 15 seconds whilst being exposed to an incremental temperature range of 100 to 500°C. Depending on the temperature reached, a score is given (1-4).

Small Splashes of Molten Metal

The test method described in EN 348 is used to determine the number of drops of molten metal that will increase the temperature between the inside of the glove and the wearer’s skin by 40°C. A score is only indicated if the sample obtains a performance level of 3 or 4 in the limited flame spread test.

Convetive Heat Resistance

The test method described in ISO 9151 is to be used. To determine the convective heat resistance of a glove, a laboratory must test three 140×140mm specimens taken from the palm of a glove. If a glove consists of multiple layers, a sample consisting of all the layers must be tested. The lowest result gives the performance level (1-4). However, a score is only recorded if the glove additionally scores a 3 or 4 in the limited flame spread test.

Large Splashes of Molten Metal

The test method described in ISO 9185 determines the glove’s resistance to large splashes of molten metal. Three 260×100mm specimens of material, including any seams where necessary, must be tested. The lowest result gives the performance level. Simulated skin is affixed to the inside of the sample glove. Molten metal is then poured over the glove to determine what quantity will damage the artificial skin. If molten metal droplets remain stuck to the glove or the glove ignites, the sample glove will receive a score of 0. X indicates that the test is not applicable.

EN 511:2006 - Protective gloves against cold

There is no current Australian Standard equivalent for EN 511:2006 to measure gloves for protection against cold.

European glove standard EN 511:2006 specifies the requirements and test methods for gloves that protect against convective and conductive cold down to -50°C, as well as water permeability.

Adverse weather conditions or specific industrial applications can have a debilitating effect on hands and productivity. Selecting the correct pair of gloves to protect hands from the cold and wet can be critical. Understanding a glove’s thermal protection levels can help select and use the right cold-weather glove and better ensure comfort and warmth for the wearer.

The EN 511 symbol is accompanied by three numbers that rate how well the glove performs in a particular test. With convective and contact cold tests, the higher the number, the better the performance, while water penetration is only marked with either 0 or 1, where 0 signifies the glove failed the test and 1 means the test was successful. If an X appears in place of any score, this means the test was not performed. A glove can, for example, have no water resistance whatsoever but keep hands warm when handling cold objects; such a glove would not usually be tested for water permeability and will have an X marked accordingly.

Test NameRating
Convective Cold1-4
Contact Cold1-4
Water Penetration1-4
Convective Cold

This test method gauges the thermal insulation (ITR) of a glove against convective cold. During this test, the glove is placed on an electrically heated artificial hand that measures the amount of power required to maintain 30°C and 35°C in a thermally controlled compartment.

The compartment is then cooled to be 20°C lower than the heated artificial hand, and constant airflow is also applied. The electrical power required to maintain a constant temperature between the surface of the heated artificial hand and the atmosphere in the compartment is measured. The more electrical energy that is required, the lower the thermal insulation value of the glove. The measured ratings and the corresponding performance scores are in the table to the right. This test will indicate how well a glove will insulate and maintain your hand temperature against the surrounding cold air.

Thermal Insulation (TR) in m2°C/WPerformance Level Rating
0.22 < TR < 0.303
0.15 < TR < 0.222
0.10 < TR < 0.151
Contact Cold

The contact cold test measures a glove’s thermal resistance (R) by placing the glove materials between metal plates at different temperatures. The measured temperature drop across the test specimen is then used to calculate its thermal resistance. This test replicates how well a glove protects the wearer when touching or handling cold surfaces and objects.

Thermal Insulation (TR) in m2°C/WPerformance Level Rating
0.100 < R < 0.1503
0.050 < R < 0.1002
0.025 < R < 0.0501
Water Penetration

Unlike the two tests above, the water penetration test is a simple pass/fail test. Firstly, the glove is submerged in water for 5 minutes. If the glove retains its impermeability, it passes with a Level 1 rating, while the gloves that fail receive a Level 0 rating. Level 1 gloves will keep hands dry as well as warm.

Water PenetrationPerformance Level Rating
> 30 minsPass
< 30 minsFail

AS/NZS 2161.10.1/2/3:2005 (EN 374:2016) - Protective gloves against chemicals and micro-organisms

Part 1 adopts EN 374-1: 2003 in its entirety. Standards Australia have not updated it to EN 374-1: 2016.

Part 2 adopts EN 374-2: 2014 in its entirety

Part 3 adopts EN 374-3:2003 in its entirety. Standards Australia have not updated it to EN 16523-1: 2015

European glove standard EN (ISO) 374: 2016 Protective gloves against dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms consists of the following:

  • EN ISO 374-1:2016 Terminology and performance requirements for chemical risks.
  • EN 374-2:2014 Determination of resistance to penetration.
  • EN 374-4:2013 Determination of resistance to degradation by chemicals.
  • EN ISO 374-5:2016 Terminology and performance requirements for micro-organisms risks.
  • EN 16523-1:2015 Determination of material resistance to permeation by chemicals. Permeation by liquid chemical under conditions of continuous contact

According to the standard, gloves are classed as: Type A, Type B or Type C depending on their performance level and number of chemicals they can protect against. The markings below show the performance level and number of chemicals required for each type:

Penetration resistance (EN374-2) Breakthrough time ≥ 30min for at least 6 chemicals in the new list (EN16523-1)

Penetration resistance (EN374-2) Breakthrough time ≥ 30min for at least 6 chemicals in the new list (EN16523-1)

Penetration resistance (EN374-2) Breakthrough time ≥ 10min for at least 1 chemicals in the new list (EN16523-1)

The chemicals used for testing are taken from the defined list below:

Code LetterChemicalCAS NumberClass
AMethanol67-56-1Primary Alcohol
CAcetonitrile75-05-8Nitrile compound
DDichloromethane75-09-2Chlorinated hydrocarbon
ECarbon wdisulphide75-15-0Sulphur containing organic compound
FToluene108-88-3Aromatic hydrocarbon
HTetrahydrofuran109-99-9Heterocyclic and ether compound
IEthyl acetate141-78-6Ester
Jn-Heptane142-82-5Saturated hydrocarbon
KSodium hydroxide 40%1310-73-2Inorganic base
LSulphuric acid 96%7664-93-9Inorganic mineral acid, oxidizing
MNitric acid 65%7697-37-2Inorganic mineral acid, oxidizing
NAcetic acid 99%64-19-7Organic acid
OAmmonia 25%1336-21-6Organic base
PHydrogen peroxide 30%7722-84-1Peroxide
SHydrofluoric acid 40%7664-39-3Inorganic mineral acid
TFormaldehyde 37%50-00-0Aldehyde
Definition of Terms


When a chemical moves through a pinhole, seam or other imperfection in a glove material at a non- molecular level.


The absorption of a chemical through the glove material at a molecular level. Breakthrough time is how long it takes for the chemical to move through the material and come into contact with the skin.


A negative change in the glove material after contact with a chemical. Signs of degradation include swelling, disintegration, flaking, brittleness, colour change, dimensional change, hardening or softening.

Under EN374-5 gloves claiming bacteria and fungi protection must pass the penetration resistance test in accordance with standard EN 374-2: 2014. Gloves claiming bacteria, fungi and virus protection must also pass ISO 16604: 2004 (method B) test.

Gloves that meet the above requirement use the pictograms below: