What is ANSI/ISEA 138-2019?

ANSI/ISEA 138-2019 is the new standard when it comes to back-of-hand impact protection for gloves. This standard establishes the “minimum performance, classification and labeling requirements for hand protection products designed to protect the knuckles and fingers from impact forces, while performing occupational tasks.” It officially became effective in February 2019.

The current ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 standard addresses cut, abrasion, tear, and puncture resistance, along with performance. However, until now, it did it not address impact protection at all. Additionally, while the European standard EN 388 does address impact protection in a sense, it does not do so comprehensively.  

EN 388 impact standards only test the knuckles, whereas the new ISEA 138 impact standards test on both knuckles and fingers.

  • Specifically, on the thumb, index finger and ring finger, gloves are tested 25 millimeters from the top of the glove.
  • On the middle finger and the pinky, they are tested 50 millimeters from the top of the glove.

In order to achieve a level rating, all parts of the glove being tested must meet that level standard. For example, a glove meeting the Level 2 standard for the knuckles and fingers but a Level 1 standard for the thumb will only achieve a Level 1 rating.

ISEA 138 Four Key Requirements:

  1. Defining an agreed-upon testing method for a glove’s level of impact protection
  2. Includes three very clearly defined performance levels
  3. Specifies a pictogram-style marking for each of the 3 levels of compliant gloves:
  • A requirement that products be tested in a laboratory with a certificate of accreditation meeting the requirements ISO/IEC 17025:2017, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories

The higher performance-level rating indicates a greater degree of protection, meaning that less force is transmitted through the glove to your hand.