If a protective glove is deemed to meet the safety requirements and is given a CE mark in an EU country, it can be exported and sold throughout the EU zone. To meet the requirements, the manufacturer has to comply with a number of EN standards. An EN standard includes demands, testing methods and requirements as to how the product is to be labelled in addition to the CE mark, and also sets out what the manufacturer’s instructions for use must contain.
EXPLANATION OF THE RISK CATEGORIES
EU Directive 89/686/EEC divides personal protective equipment into three categories, depending on the level of risk involved. The greater the risk to which the user is exposed, the tougher the test requirements are concerning the gloves’ protective ability and certification. Since the EU Directive regulations are framed in general terms, European standards have been developed that specify requirements, test methods and marking instructions. One such standard is EN 420, which lists general requirements for protective gloves.
CATEGORY I / SIMPLE DESIGN
This category covers gloves used for work with minimum risks that can be identified in good time. This includes for instance gloves with less stringent requirements as to mechanical durability and gloves that are required to protect against hot objects. Gloves of a more basic type such as gardening gloves and assembly gloves belong in this category. The manufacturer must be able to show that the product meets the basic requirements for protective gloves (in accordance with EN 420), and is responsible for guaranteeing the CE marking. This applies to all protective gloves.
CATEGORY II / INTERMEDIATE DESIGN
Many protective gloves belong in this category, such as gloves where the requirements include mechanical durability to protect against, for example blade cuts. If gloves are to be given a CE mark, the manufacturer must be able to show that the product meets both the basic requirements and further standards that may apply to specific areas of use, such as welding gloves. The gloves must be tested by an approved laboratory and be type-approved by a notified body that issues certificates. Gloves in Category II must be marked with a pictogram, i.e., a symbol showing what the glove has been tested against and at what performance level. If the glove is intended to protect against mechanical risks (in accordance with EN 388), a four-figure code is shown beside or beneath the pictogram. These figures denote performance levels from tests against abrasion, blade cuts, tearing and puncture.
CATEGORY III / COMPLEX DESIGN
These gloves can offer protection against things like highly hazardous substances. They are required to protect against permanent damage in situations where the user may have difficulty detecting the risks in time. This includes for instance gloves that protect against heat (above +100°) and extreme cold (below -50°) and gloves used for handling most chemicals. The gloves must be tested by an approved laboratory and be type-approved by a notified body. A further requirement is a yearly inspection of the production process and the gloves will be properly checked to ensure the right quality. Not until this is done may the gloves be given a CE mark. The notified body’s identity code (four figures) is to be placed directly after the CE mark, i.e. CE 0123.