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Solar Eclipse Safety

- August 17, 2017 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

The solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017 is not just a danger that parents of school kids need to be concerned with.  Adults will also be tempted to look into the sky on Monday.  As an employer, it’s your duty to train your employees about recognized hazards in their workplace, and if their workplace on Monday will be outside, you should definitely take a minute to document training about the dangers of solar eclipse viewing.  Not only can Monday’s eclipse lead to eye damage but it also means an added risk of vehicle accidents and distracted working.

Below are tips for keeping everyone safe:

The hazards include eye damage, vehicle accidents, or injuries due to distractions. Mild eye damage includes sun spots for a few minutes, and severe damage can cause blindness. Driving will be affected depending on the direction of travel and because many other drivers will be distracted by the sun. When driving on Monday – defensive driving should be a top priority. Some of your employees will probably be thinking about the sun while at their workstation which can lead to distraction and injuries. Distractions when working outside will also be a concern as people try to avoid looking into the sun while they do their job. Remind everyone to stay focused.

Solar viewing glasses are required. The only safe way to look at the sun during an eclipse is through solar filter glasses. Normal sunglasses will not protect you from the intense light. This year, there have been many counterfeit solar viewing glasses on the market so look for a manufacturer that is compliant with ISO 12312-2.  The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has a website that lists reputable vendors of solar filters and viewers

Watch for people stealing your welding shields out of storage on MondayWelding glass rated shade 12 or higher can be safe to view the sun. But the problem with this is knowing what the shade rating is.  Many older shields (you know, that one laying in the pile of junk in the storage room) are not rated 12 or higher and will not be safe for viewing. We recommend that you prohibit employees from using any welding shields to view the eclipse just to be on the safe side.

NASA will have two live streams of the event all day. To alleviate some of the distraction of the day, let your employees take a minute to view the live stream during breaks. Here is the link to the NASA stream, so make sure you come back on Monday to check it out. Indirect viewing is also a possibility; you will notice that shadows will look different during the eclipse which can be very interesting to see.

The eclipse will affect much of the country and let’s face it; most people will want to be a part of it. Plan ahead, prepare for safety, and grab a pair of protective glasses, find the live stream, and train your employees about the hazards today. For more details on the solar event, check out NASA’s Website.


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