Gloves made simple

Are you finding you’ve got your hands full when choosing the correct, relevant gloves for you and your work force? The world of gloves is vast, and often confusing. There are seemingly millions of products all offering the same thing but in ever so slightly different ways.

Don’t know your foamed Nitrile from your Latex Coatings? Are you confused by Puncture resistance? Don’t worry keep reading, we’ll break it all down so you can make an informed decision.

Gloves essentially are made up of two parts. The first part is a woven fabric that forms the main body of the glove. It is this fabric that really provides the main protection as well as comfort. Often a super-treated nylon makes up the main body of the glove before it is then dipped in a coating to give them the grip and some additional protection.

The four main coatings are:

  • Latex
  • Polyurethane
  • Nitrile
  • Foamed Nitrile

These coatings improve in performance the further down the line you get, Latex gives you wet and dry grip, Polyurethane providing a low level of grip in oily and greasy protection. Nitrile coatings add an improved level of oil and grease grip but foamed nitrile with its tiny air pockets gives the best levels of oil and grease grip. There is a residual benefit of slightly enhanced heat protection from the foamed nitrile but this is not an advertised feature of the coating.

All gloves must be tested to a standard (EN388, 2003) to ensure that they reach the required performance levels. These are fairly straight forward to understand once you know ‘how to read a glove’. The Gloves are tested over four categories and scored as a result, with all tests occurring on the palm of the glove.

  • Abrasion resistance (1-4)
  • Cut resistance (1-5)
  • Tear resistance (1-4)
  • Puncture resistance (1-4)


Circled in the picture is where the Scores for the EN388 are scored, and they are scored in the order seen above, this glove for example scores 4 for abrasion, 5 for cut resistance, 4 for tear resistance and 3 for puncture resistance. There is a new EN388 standard that came into effect in 2016 and tests the gloves exactly the same except for cut resistance which is now scored from A-F. (with the score coming after the usual set of 4 numbers E.g. 4X53C) Gloves with a cut resistance of A are general multipurpose gloves, B denotes common applications in industry where medium cut resistance is required, C/D is for high cut resistance, E/F scores are for very specific high risk applications.

On all of its gloves Polyco will advertise what marks the gloves score. Either on the back of the hand (as per photo example) or sometimes they will include a little tag inside the glove. This is usually done on the gloves that have the back of hand impact protection.

So, there you have it, you should now have enough information to confidently know what factors to take into consideration when you are choosing gloves for the job. If there any further questions then get in contact with us on 01753 684084 or email

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