ANSI/ISEA adjusted their cut resistance standards in 2016 to reflect new technological changes in materials and technology. Adjusted ANSI glove cut resistance ratings expand the old system from 5 levels to 9 different levels. In the past, there was a wide range of grade 4 cut resistance – from 1500 grams to 3499 grams of cut resistance. Obviously, you may have had ANSI Cut Level 4 protective gloves in the past, and they will behave very differently depending on which end of the scale they fall on.
Now, the new 9-level scale seems to better distribute those levels of cut protection across the range. However, it still looks a bit messy. So let's break it down.
Check out our articles on types of work gloves and the best work gloves for more information and advice.
2016 ANSI Glove Ratings, Cut Classes A1–A9
The 2016 ANSI Cut Rating indicates how many grams of cutting load a glove can withstand before being pierced by a sharp blade. To understand what each level is for, we've listed them below with some possible clarification
A1: 200–499 grams (low shear hazard)
ANSI A1 Cut Level gloves are suitable for light cutting hazards. This means general material handling in wood or plastic as well as assembly tasks. The A1 glove offers maximum dexterity when you need to handle small parts. The A1 glove can handle basic objects with sharp edges. Provided they do not intersect the glove with a force of more than 499 grams. Warehouse workers and anyone in the forestry or general construction trades can benefit from using these gloves.
A2: 500–999 g (slight cutting hazard)
ANSI A2 cut protection is useful anywhere you might come across things like pulp and paper where cuts can occur. It also helps in automotive assembly as you may be dealing with sharp edges of parts and materials during processing.
A3: 1000–1499 grams (light/moderate cutting hazard)
Grade A3 gloves offer more of the same. They increased the strength with which these gloves can handle sharp objects. These gloves are starting to fall into the more common category where you get reasonable protection when dealing with sharp edges and accidental blade contact during normal handling.
A4: 1500–2199 grams (moderate cutting hazard)
For metal fabrication and handling, gloves with an ANSI A4 cut grade rating form the benchmark you might want to look for. We also love these gloves for anyone who works with food preparation or processing. When you think about it, anyone who might need to deal with knives on a regular basis should take a look. It also aids in packaging and utensil manufacturing as well as in the handling or canning of bottles and light glass.
Drywallers, electricians and carpet installers may also want to wear A4 or better work gloves due to the heavy use of razors. Finally, due to the presence of sharp edges in the sheet metal, HVAC technicians and installers will definitely want to protect their hands when assembling and using these systems.
A5: 2200–2999 grams (medium/high cutting hazard)
An ANSI cut grade rating of A5 or higher indicates that a work glove could simply be improved to an A4 grade. This (obviously) provides better protection. We don't have much to say except that the comfortable A5 gloves definitely offer more protection for the tradesman who handles sharp metal and blades on a daily basis.
A6: 3000–3999 grams (high cutting hazard)
If you work with hazardous or sharp materials all day, A6 cutting grade gloves may help. Depending on where you work, you may also find it mandatory! These gloves are suitable for use in meat processing plants. We also recommend it anywhere you deal with metal stamping or recycling. If you use automatic and semi-automatic slitting blade machines, these gloves will protect your hands while changing blades. Those working in glass and window manufacturing or sorting at recycling plants will also want to consider A5 Cut Resistant Gloves.
A7: 4000–4999 grams (higher cutting hazard)
OK, ANSI glove ratings above A6 start to get serious. A7 work gloves provide enough cut protection to prevent nearly 5000 grams of gloves from puncturing or cutting your hands. You start to see interesting techniques in these gloves. Examples include the integration of 13-gauge seamless knit cut-resistant fiber technology and advanced wrinkle latex coating. These gloves may be antimicrobial or even made of thicker goatskin or leather-like materials. They may also include padding for the palm and/or back of the hand.
A8: 5000–5999 grams (highest cutting hazard)
Typically ANSI A8 grade cut resistant gloves also have higher impact resistance. You may find that the extra palm reinforcement provides a high level of abrasion resistance. It's not uncommon to have a fully impact-resistant outer glove for protection against severe impacts.
With these ANSI glove ratings, breathability becomes very important. Thicker, denser gloves require advanced fabric technology to maintain handleability and feel. These gloves are generally suitable for those in the oil and gas industry or anyone involved in mining, demolition or heavy equipment operations. It goes without saying that large glass cutting operations may also benefit from gloves with this level of ANSI cut level protection.
A9: 6000+ grams (extreme cut hazard)
ANSI glove cut grades up to A9. This level just offers more of the same. Unless you're planning on taking on sharks with wire mesh gloves, this is the one for you! Typically, A9 gloves are bulkier and a little more padded than A1-A7 gloves. Even with knit gloves, the coating and integrated cut-resistant fibers make these gloves a bit thicker and much less tactile than most.
Previous ANSI Cut Resistance Standards vs. New Standards
Previous ANSI cutting standards did not differentiate to a level that covered all the various needs of various industries. So in 2016, we saw an expansion from level 5 to level 9. Most of the expansion happens at the top tier of the scale — adding more heavy-duty glove options and enhanced cut protection.
See a visual comparing the different standards:
Key Points for ANSI Glove Ratings
Perhaps the greatest gain in understanding ANSI glove grades has to do with application. For some, your employer will tell you exactly which gloves to use – and some even provide them. For others, the rating may be more important — glove style is a matter of preference.
If you're new to the job, ask around. We can almost guarantee that someone else has gone through the learning process. This can save you a lot of time and headaches from using the wrong gloves. Hope this helps you. If you have additional feedback for us or any tips you'd like to contribute, please add them in the comments below!
Learn more about ANSI glove ratings on the ANSI website.