Cut resistant hand protection refers to gloves, partial gloves, mittens or other items that cover part or all of the hand and fingers and are designed to prevent serious cuts and lacerations. 


Workers in a variety of industries, including material handling, carpentry, waste recycling, manufacturing, automotive, food processing, construction, HVAC, metal stamping and glass fabrication are exposed to sharp objects that can cause injuries to hands and fingers. Where hazards exist, OSHA requires employers to select the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and direct employees to use it.


Cut-resistant hand protection falls into three main categories:

  1. Metal mesh gloves made of stainless-steel rings

  2. Cut-and-sewn gloves with cut-resistant palm linings, or made of cut-resistant materials

  3. Seamless knitted gloves made of cut-resistant materials


Innovations in design and manufacturing processes have resulted in a range of high-performance materials that offer superior protection for hands exposed to sharp objects. These include:

  • Para-aramids: The strong synthetic fibers are used in body armor fabric and in the aerospace industry, among other applications. A prominent para-aramid brand is Kevlar, which was commercially introduced in the 1970s and became popular due to its protective qualities. Other para-aramid brands are Nomex and Twaron.

  • High-performance polyethylene (HPPE): Stronger than steel and resistant to abrasion, HPPE has the additional benefit of weighing less than aramids, which makes it more comfortable for wearers. Dyneema and Spectra are HPPE-based.

  • Engineered yarns: By combining materials like steel wire with various fibers, manufacturers are continuing to improve on the protective levels, dexterity and comfort of cut-resistant gloves.


ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 – American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification. This voluntary global standard addresses the classification and testing of hand protection for specific performance properties related to chemical and industrial applications. This standard provides performance ranges for related to mechanical protection, including cut-resistance, based on standardized test methods. Descriptions of the test methods used in this standard are provided. The standard includes a nine-level classification system for cut-resistance, based upon the glove’s performance when evaluated against defined industry test methods.

ASTM F2992/F2992M-15 - Standard Test Method for Measuring Cut Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing with Tomodynamometer (TDM-100) Test Equipment. This standard specifies a test method to assess the cut resistance of a material when it is exposed to a cutting edge under specified loads. It only addresses hazards caused by the cutting action of a smooth, sharp edge across the surface of a material and may have limitations if the material being tested is thicker than 20 mm.

ISO 13997:2023 - Protective clothing - Mechanical properties - Determination of resistance to cutting by sharp objects. This standard also includes a tomodynamometer cut test method for protective clothing, including gloves. The test determines resistance to cutting by sharp edges, such as knives, sheet metal parts, swarf, glass, bladed tools and castings.

EN388:2016 +A1:2018 – This European standard classifies abrasion, blade cut, tear and other hazard protection on a scale of 0-to-5 or A-thru-F. It specifies requirements, test methods and marking for protective gloves.


ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 levels are based on the ASTM standard F2992/F2992M testing method and are determined by grams of force:

  • Level 1 (A1): ≥200 grams of force – This level is appropriate for minor cut hazards and may be suitable for use in material handling, warehouses, small parts assembly and packaging.

  • Level 2 (A2): ≥500 grams of force – This offers light/medium protection and can be appropriate for automotive factory employees.

  • Level 3 (A3): ≥1000 grams of force – This offers light/medium protection and can be found in auto factories.

  • Level 4 (A4): ≥1500 grams of force – This level is for medium cut hazards, and should be the minimum level for PPE in industrial environments where there is a likelihood of injury. Workers in the manufacturing, glass handling and HVAC industries, among others, can benefit from Level 4 gloves.

  • Level 5 (A5): ≥2200 grams of force – This level is for medium/heavy cut hazards, such as those found in metal fabrication and floor installation.

  • Level 6 (A6): ≥3000 grams of force – This level is for high cut hazards. Materials classified as Level 6 through Level 9 are highly resistant to cuts, so they can offer protection for workers engaged in meat processing and manufacturing that involves glass and other sharp objects, like window fabrication.

  • Level 7 (A7): ≥4000 grams of force – This level is for high cut hazards and is optimal for the glass manufacturing and demolition industries.

  • Level 8 (A8): ≥5000 grams of force – This level is for the kind of high cut hazards found in sawmills and other industrial environments.

  • Level 9 (A9): ≥6000+ grams of force – This level is for high cut hazards and may be worn by metal stamping, glass manufacturing and recycling industry employees. 

EN388:2016 +A1:2018 – It is important to note that the levels contained in this standard are not equivalent to those in ANSI/ISEA 105-2016:


Although manufacturers continue to develop protective gloves that are both lighter weight and more breathable and flexible than previous models, it is important to choose hand protection that will allow workers to perform their tasks comfortably over the course of an entire shift. In addition to having a negative ergonomic effect – one which discourages workers from wearing it - PPE that is rigid and heavy can affect productivity. 

While they may be resistant to tearing, technologically advanced materials are still vulnerable to wear, over time and under certain circumstances. Then, too, different materials are optimal for different conditions. Keep the following in mind.

  • Gloves made from para-aramid fibers are able to tolerate high temperatures, which makes them optimal for welders or those working near furnaces. Conversely, high temperatures can cause HPPE to melt and injure the wearer.

  • The structure of para-aramid fibers can be altered if the wearer sweats excessively. The same is not true for HPPE, which can withstand both moisture – like sweat - and direct sunlight.

  • Adding dyes to para-aramid fibers can cause them to degrade. HPPE can be dyed with no loss of performance.

  • Para-aramid gloves will weaken from repeated washings, particularly if it is done with a detergent that contains bleach.