Is Cut Level 5 Important For You When Buying Workwear?

A cut level 5 is determined by cut resistance standards

There are several unique standards used for determining how difficult it is to cut through a garment, or how resistant a fabric is to being cut. Most standards rate cut resistance on a scale from cut level 1 to cut level 5, and though they use different testing methods, they generally end up with extremely similar results.

Two of the above standards, the ASTM 1790 and ISO 13997, use a test method where a rectangular blade (looking like a very large razor blade) is used to do the cutting. The more weight that has to be applied in order to cut through the material, the more cut resistance the material is offering. For example, if the material can resist between 500 and 999 grams of pressure on the blade before it is cut, it would result in a cut level 2.  A cut level 5 garment must at least withstand 3,500 grams without being penetrated by the blade.

EN 388:2016 is another extensively used cut resistance standard. However, instead of a straight razor, this popular standard is using a circular blade for its test method. Also, instead of varying the amount of pressure on the blade, it keeps the same pressure (500 grams) and instead counts the number of times you have to perform before the material is cut. You’d have to cut at the same exact spot at least five times to get through a cut level 3 material, while a cut level 5 garment for example would withstand more than 20 reputations.

Note that EN 388:2016 has originally been developed to test protective gloves, and is also used to rate abrasion resistance, tear resistance, and puncture resistance. Cut resistance is the only one that goes up to level 5.  The other three tests result in levels 1 to 4 only.

cut level 5 clothing

The Right Cut Level For Your Job

So what cut level do you need?

We at CutPRO® a true believer of ‘the best is not good enough’, stating our relentless desire to improve what we do. All of our cut resistant clothing offer the highest cut level 5, because we simply believe you cannot be safe enough, and sometimes it is better to be on the safe side, as long as protective garments remain lightweight, thin and breathable.

You can get a general idea of the protection offered here:

  • Cut Level 1 or 2: Garments offering either cut level 1 or cut level 2 are only suitable for jobs that generally don’t involve sharp objects, such as car maintenance or landscaping work. They don’t offer protection from actual blades, broken glass, or sharp edges of sheet metal.
  • Cut Level 3 and 4: Cut level 3 garments provide basic or average protection for lighter glass or metal handling. Most Kevlar® based garments offer cut level 3 and are often seen as ‘short lived’ or ‘disposable’ items worn and replaced frequently.
  • Cut Level 5: Cut level 5 garments are used for all jobs that involve very sharp blades, such as a meat butcher, and for heavy metal stamping, sheet metal processing and flat or float glass work. We strongly recommend cut level 5 garments to be worn at all times.

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