EN374-1:2016 – CHEMICAL AND MICRO-ORGANISM HAZARDS
Working with chemicals is extremely high risk, which means that you need to make sure that the correct gloves are utilised. The European standard EN374 defines the performance requirements for gloves which protect the wearer from chemicals and micro-organisms. In other words, the standard informs the wearer about what chemicals the gloves are designed for use with and for how long. The standard is subdivided into the following sections:
- EN374-2:2014 – Determination of resistance to penetration
- EN16523-1:2015 – Determination of resistance to permeation by chemicals (which replaces EN374-3)
- EN374-4:2013 – Determination of resistance to degradation by chemicals
- EN374-5:2016 – Protection against micro-organisms
EN374 testing includes a glove rating, where the gloves are classified as either Type A, Type B or Type C. these ratings depend on the number of chemicals the glove provides protection against. The majority of chemical resistant gloves will be classified as Type A as these are gloves that protect the user from the permeation of at least six chemicals for a period of 30 minutes or longer. The chemical rating is displayed with the use of a breaker symbol inside a shield. Underneath are the letters of the chemicals it has passed the resistance test for. The Type A, B or C classification can be found above the pictogram.
EN16523-1 – Determination of resistance to permeation by chemicals
Three samples from the palm of the glove are taken and tested to see if chemicals have broken through the glove material at a molecular level. In order for the glove to pass the permeation test it must endure a minimum chemical breakthrough time of:
- Type A – 30 minutes (level 2) against a minimum of 6 test chemicals
- Type B – 30 minutes (level 2) against a minimum of 3 test chemicals
- Type C – 10 minutes (level 1) against a minimum of 1 test chemical
The letters underneath the flask pictogram on the glove indicate which chemical the glove provides protection against; this applies only for Type A and B gloves. Type C does not include letters as it only provides protection from one chemical and only for a short period of time.
For a glove to be awarded the adjacent letter, the glove must not have a permeation breakthrough of that chemical when immersed for at least 30 minutes. The following list indicates the 18 different chemicals that are tested and the corresponding letter that is used to represent that chemical. For example, gloves that provide acetone protection would be awarded the code letter B.
EN374-2:2014 – Determination of resistance to penetration
Chemicals have the potential to penetrate through holes or other defects in the material of the glove at a non-molecular level. For a glove to be approved as a chemical protection glove it shall not leak when tested in accordance with EN374, which includes through air and water testing. For the air leak test, the glove is immersed in water whilst the interior of the glove is pressurised. A leak can then be detected by a stream of bubbles appearing from the surface of the glove. When applying the water leak test, the glove is filled with water and any leaks will be discovered by droplets of water appearing on the outside of the glove.
EN374-4 – Determination of resistance to degradation by chemicals
Degradation is the process through which a change to one or more properties of the glove material occurs through contact with a chemical. Degradation testing records any changes in the physical properties of a glove after it has been exposed to a particular chemical. The changes that are recorded include flaking, shrinkage, brittleness, colour change or swelling of the glove.
EN374-5 – Protection against micro-organisms
Penetration testing is required for all gloves that claim micro-organism protection, which includes testing through air and water methods. This test specifically classifies gloves according to whether they provide protection against bacteria, fungi and in some cases viruses. If the glove provides protection against viruses, it will be shown underneath the pictogram.