Safety is in your hands

29 September 2017

​Arco’s divisional director of quality and technical standards, Neil Hewitt, offers advice to UK cleaning businesses following the European glove protection update to BS EN ISO 374

In February of this year sections of the BS EN ISO 374:2003, the European standard for gloves protecting against dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms, were updated including terminology, markings and test requirements. UK businesses within the cleaning industry that are legally required to provide staff with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves should ensure they are up date to with any legislative changes.

Terminology and performance requirements for chemical risks

One of the most significant changes to the updated EN374 series of standards relates to the terminology and performance requirements for chemical risks, specifically a new classification system. Depending on a glove’s permeation performance, moving forward, chemical protective gloves will now be classified into three Types: A, B and C. 

Type A offers protection to a greater range of chemicals in high risk applications, including cleaning in an industrial and hazardous environment, and Type B offers a similar level of protection to Type A but to a reduced number of chemicals. Type C denotes low chemical protection for less hazardous applications such as domestic or commercial cleaning. 

If the chemical gloves have been approved in accordance with the old EN 374 standards they are still permitted to be sold until April 2019, one year after the new 2016/425 Regulation comes into force.


It’s vital for UK bosses to have a clear understanding of the new iconography and marking types to ensure that their workforce is supplied with products that offer the appropriate levels of protection.

Marking low chemical protection

In the latest revision of the standard, the low chemical beaker symbol, which previously denoted a lower level of protection as permeation testing did not have to be undertaken, has been removed. The only icon now available is the conical flask accompanied by Type A, B or C performance levels.

We, at Arco, are concerned that the removal of the beaker symbol and use of the same conical flask icon across multiple levels of protection may be slightly misleading and cause confusion for our customers, especially in the cleaning industry. The use of different cleaning agents with a variety of chemical levels makes it far more important for cleaners to understand which gloves will offer high protection. We would advise cleaning businesses to ensure they properly read the new markings before purchasing and look out for the ‘Low Chemical’ phrase that will now sit alongside the new icon for Type C products.”


Marking and performance of Type A & B gloves

The updated standard also introduces an increase in the number of test chemicals that can be used to certify a glove, increasing from 12 to 18. Many chemicals added such as formaldehyde, Acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide can be found in a number of different cleaning products from window cleaner and stain remover to multi-surface spray and brick and mortar cleaner. Each test chemical has a corresponding code letter which is displayed under the conical flask icon on the glove. Type A gloves must offer protection against six chemicals from this list with a minimum breakthrough time of 30 minutes. Example marking: 


Type B must protect against a minimum of three chemicals from the list with the same breakthrough time. For both types, additional chemicals can be tested that are not on the list, these can be found in the user information supplied with the gloves. Example marking: 


A list of all test chemicals and their code letterings, plus a full report on the BS EN ISO 374:2003 update is available to read online at