The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) cut resistance level indicates the varying degrees of protection offered by a very useful piece of personal protective equipment (PPE): safety gloves. The specifics of these levels are in ANSI-105, Hand Protection Classification, developed by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA).

Safety gloves are made from many different materials, from light fabrics that afford the user a high level of manual dexterity to heavy and stiff materials providing maximum protection. The protection of heavier materials comes at a price: sacrificed manual dexterity.

ANSI Cut Resistant Gloves Levels

Although the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires hand protection for occupations where hand injuries are a common hazard, it doesn’t specify any cut protection gloves levels.

Determining what protection is required, and then finding safety gloves meeting that requirement, falls on the safety manager. The ANSI cut protection levels not only provide a standardized understanding of the distinctions between the levels, but they’re also a helpful resource for a safety manager in selecting cut resistant gloves.

ANSI’s glove protection levels were first established in 1999. Multiple revisions have been made, refining protection levels to reflect material improvements and design innovations. The latest 2016 revision resulted in nine distinct levels of protection, also known as cut resistance levels:

  • Level A1: Protects against 200 to 499 g of cutting load.
  • Level A2: Protects against 500 to 999 g of cutting load.
  • Level A3: Protects against 1000 to 1499 g of cutting load.
  • Level A4: Protects against 1500 to 2199 g of cutting load.
  • Level A5: Protects against 2200 to 2999 g of cutting load.
  • Level A6: Protects against 3000 to 3999 g of cutting load.
  • Level A7: Protects against 4000 to 4999 g of cutting load.
  • Level A8: Protects against 5000 to 5999 g of cutting load.
  • Level A9: Protects against a minimum of 6000 g of cutting load.

Understanding cut resistant gloves levels helps you select the perfect gloves to protect your workers’ hands from cuts ranging from annoying paper cuts to the type of life-altering cuts it’s possible to sustain in an industrial setting.

This video explains more about the ANSI/ISEA cut-resistance level and how to select gloves that will protect your workers from hand safety hazards:

Why Change ANSI Cut Resistant Glove Ratings?

Prior to 2016, ANSI allowed cut-level testing using two different machines, which created confusion. Initially, Cut Protection Performance Tests (CPPT) were conducted using a specific CPPT machine to measure the cut resistance of various fabrics.

While this testing did create a standardized system for the comparison of cut-resistant materials, blades used in the CPPT machines varied in sharpness among test labs—by as much as 27 percent. Without calibration of blade sharpness, at the microscopic level, the results were questionable.

Then a new machine, a tomodynamometer (TDM-100), was introduced for these controlled tests. An updated version of the original CPPT machine, the TDM-100 has changes to both the weight system and the fabric placement. To get accurate and consistent results, a new blade is used in the TDM-100 for every cut made. Here is a helpful synopsis of the regulation updates.

Results from the TDM-100 are now the only acceptable results used in determining ANSI cut-resistance levels. More importantly, the scale was expanded from five levels to nine (A1 - A9). This expanded scale means the levels are more accurate. It also allows for testing of more highly cut-resistant materials.

Where Do Slice Tools Fit In?

Safety managers face a real challenge when trying to find the best safety gloves for their workers. They need a glove that provides adequate protection, allows sufficient manual dexterity to accomplish the job, and doesn’t cost more than the budget allows.

As Slice’s® reputation for making tools that use our finger-friendly® safety blades grows, industrial safety managers are making the connection between the safety of our tools and the type of gloves they need. They’re reasoning, quite correctly, that using safer tools may change the level of cut resistance required in their safety gloves.

Safety gloves are often quite expensive, especially at the higher ANSI cut-resistance levels. Even reducing one level of cut resistance will lower costs significantly, without sacrificing safety, if safer tools are being used. As more and more safety managers ask this question, we realized we needed an answer, so we had our safety blades tested.

We hired MEI-Charlton to compare our ceramic safety blades with standard steel blades in terms of cut resistance. The cut tests were controlled for pressure (constant load) and length of cut (20 millimeter linear cut).

The results? Our blades produced only a partial cut through Level A1 gloves, and didn’t penetrate any gloves at Level A2 or above! Standard steel blades cut through glove levels A1 through A3, and partially cut Level A4. So, if you require a Level A5 for your steel blade, these test results indicate that you may be able to switch to a lower ANSI cut resistance level—as low as A2—if you’re using Slice blades.