Personal protective equipment (PPE), including protective gloves, is classified broadly in Categories I, II and III in accordance with the PPE Directive, 89/686/EEC. All chemical protective gloves are assigned to Category III. This necessitates type examination followed by regular surveillance:
Category III applies to all complex PPE intended for protection against a risk of fatal or serious and irreversible injury. Besides chemical protective gloves, this category includes for example PPE for use in hot environments (atmospheric temperature over 100 °C) and PPE for protection against electric current. In addition to the CE mark, the (four-digit) code of the notified body responsible for annual product surveillance/surveillance of the quality assurance system must also be stated.
Category I applies only to PPE for minimal risks the effects of which users are able to assess safely themselves. This includes, for example, PPE against superficial mechanical injury and against weakly aggressive cleaning agents the effects of which are easily reversed (gloves for protection against certain alkaline cleaning agents etc.), and protective gloves for the handling of hot parts with a temperature below 50 °C. Pictograms do not apply.
Category II includes all other protective gloves. In order to document the protective properties of Category II protective gloves, manufacturers apply additional markings to these gloves in the form of pictograms and the numbers of the relevant test standards.
All PPE, and therefore also protective gloves, must bear the CE mark. With this mark, the manufacturer certifies that the gloves satisfy the "essential health and safety requirements" of the EU directive. Equipment not bearing the CE mark may not be placed on the market as PPE.
DIN EN 374 defines requirements applicable to gloves for protection against chemicals and/or micro-organisms. It applies in conjunction with the DIN EN 420 basic standard (general requirements) and makes reference to DIN EN 388, which sets out the requirements concerning protection against mechanical risks.
A distinction is drawn between two types of chemical protective glove:
Gloves are clearly marked as one or the other by the respective pictogram (Erlenmeyer flask or test beaker). A chemical resistant protective glove provides protection for at least 30 minutes against at least three of the twelve test chemicals (Class 2). A code letter beneath the Erlenmeyer flask pictogram indicates the chemicals against which the glove has been tested. Low chemical resistant protective gloves are identified by the test beaker pictogram. They provide splash protection, i.e. they are watertight and serve as protection against certain chemicals.
DIN EN 374: Protective gloves against chemicals and micro-organisms.
Beuth, Berlin 2003
DIN EN 420: Protective gloves – General requirements and test methods. Beuth, Berlin 2010
DIN EN 388: Protective gloves against mechanical risks. Beuth, Berlin 2003
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