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In at the sharp end

A few months have now passed since Network Rail changed the rules around the level of hand protection required on its work sites

Since 1 April, Network Rail has mandated that everyone working on its sites wear gloves that meet the Cut 5 standard: the highest level of cut resistance outlined by the European standard (EN 388) that measures hand protection.

For manufacturers this has represented a sizeable challenge. Prior to this, Cut 5 had been limited to a small number of specialist hand protection products that were not designed to possess the same level of dexterity and comfort that is required by an average wearer.

PPE and workwear specialist Bodyguard Workwear has been one of the first to respond, designing a new range of Cut 5 standard gloves.

SAMURAI CUT 5

‘It was always very difficult to understand how the industry and certainly the boots on the ground, the workforce, would respond to Cut 5 gloves,’ said Bodyguard Workwear director Kamal Basra, describing the challenge Network Rail’s supply chain faced.

Bodyguard Workwear has now unveiled its Samurai Cut 5 range, which the company believes will offer vital flexibility given the variety of activities and environments that can be encountered on railway sites.

There are 10 gloves in the new line, each designed to suit different applications and conditions. The variety is essential, said Kamal, in an industry that has an established market for a wide array of different gloves.

The range has been developed by Bodyguard Workwear’s technical team. Over the course of a four-month development phase, Bodyguard Workwear produced a series of prototype gloves and sent them out to the industry to gather feedback from the front line.

‘One of the big issues that came back straight away was people said their hands felt cold,’ said Kamal, discussing what had been one of the challenges of producing an everyday Cut 5 glove.

He explained how Cut 5 gloves would generally have steel and glass fibres woven into the material to give them more protection against cuts. However, the fibres don’t have particularly good thermal properties. Two of the Samurai Cut 5 products have been manufactured with thicker linings to give them the thermal property that was lacking in previous Cut 5 products. Others have been engineered to feel more comfortable against the wearer’s skin.

INDUSTRY FEEDBACK

‘That feedback for us was absolutely essential,’ said Kamal, who explained how the responses were used to refine the designs and produce the gloves that are now on sale.

The finished products are rigorously tested by Bodyguard Workwear before being sent to an independent assessor to be given an official EN 388 rating. Network Rail will hope the increased requirements will result in fewer reported hand injuries. ‘Our supply chain is doing its part to achieve that
aim,’ said Kamal.

WHAT IS CUT 5?

Cut 5 is the highest level of cut resistance as defifined by the EN 388 standard.

The standard requires gloves are tested for abrasion, cut, tear and puncture resistance. They are then graded on a scale between one and five – five being the most resistant. The EN specifification is displayed as a four digit number. With the Samurai Cut 5 range, the number is displayed on the back of the hand.

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