ANSI/ISEA 138: Everything to Know About the New Hand Impact Standard

Hand injuries are all too common on the job. For that reason, there have long been standards in place for measuring a particular glove’s resistance to cuts, abrasion, heat, and puncture. These standards help us select the right glove to protect a wearer performing a specific task, in specific conditions, with specific hazards. But when it comes to impact protection, there hasn’t always been a reliable way to measure and compare gloves.

As a result, impact protection was the wild, wild west, with manufacturers free to add a little rubber to the back of a glove and make a wide variety of impact protection claims without any measurement in place to back them up. In 2019, the new ANSI/ISEA 138 Impact Standard was published to change all that.

ANSI/ISEA 138 rating standards are designed to measure how much impact gets through to determine how much the glove absorbs. They establish a minimum performance, classification, and labeling requirement for gloves designed to protect the wearer’s fingers and knuckles. The ultimate goal is, of course, keeping people safer on the job.

Industrial professionals wearing work gloves that meat the standards of ANSI ISEA 138

How Are the Gloves Impact Tested Under ANSI/ISEA 138?

The best way to measure how well something holds up when a heavy object is dropped on it is to drop heavy objects on it.

Manufacturers who are looking to earn an ANSI/ISEA 138 standard ranking for their glove must submit it to an independent and accredited lab for testing. This ensures that the testing conditions (even room temperature) are identical for every glove and every test.

The test begins with the lab testers cutting the glove in half and removing the palm. These standards are designed to measure impact rating of the back of the glove. So to truly understand how the glove performs, any impact-absorbing material on the front of the glove could provide an inaccurate reading.

The back half of the glove is then placed on a curved metal anvil. The lab professionals drop a 5.5 lb. striking mass onto the glove to simulate the impact a wearer might experience on the job. A force transducer underneath the curved metal anvil measures the force of the impact that comes through the glove.

That test is then repeated for each knuckle on each finger and the thumb. This is important because the entire glove is rated based on the lowest performing test. So if one test earns a rating lower than the rest of them, the glove is rated as a whole at the lower level.

What Are the ANSI/ISEA 138 Impact Glove Rating Levels?

There are three levels to the ANSI/ISEA 138 standard: Levels 1, 2, and 3. Level 1 gloves provide the least amount of protection, and Level 3 gloves provide the most. Each level represents a different measure of protection based on how much impact the glove allows through. Here’s how the three levels of protection are broken down:

  • Level 1: Allows an average of 9 or fewer kilonewtons (kN) of force to get through the glove.
  • Level 2: Allows an average of 6.5 or fewer kN of force to get through the glove.
  • Level 3: Allows an average of 4 or fewer kN of force to get through the glove.

Agilix Solutions Works Hand in Glove With Customers

The team at Agilix Solutions is here to help. If you’re not sure which gloves are right for your application, we can connect you with safety experts who know the products and the standards, and can match you with impact-rated gloves to meet your specifications. Reach out to your Account Manager or contact your nearest Agilix Solutions branch to start the conversation.

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