Worker Health & Safety During a Total Solar Eclipse

At OSG, we consider our client safety needs important. We have heard from a number of our clients over the past few weeks looking for safety tips to keep workers safe during the August 21st total solar eclipse. We have compiled some information for employers to ensure workers remain safe and free from injury during the total solar eclipse, as well as some general safety tips that apply to everyone.

What is a Total Solar Eclipse and When is it Happening?

On August 21st, North Americans will be treated to a rare total solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse is when the sun, the moon, and the earth perfectly align with one another, and the moon blocks the light from the sun completely (this is known as totality). The August 21st eclipse will take approximately two hours and 42 minutes from start to finish, with totality lasting for a total of two minutes. However, to see the total eclipse of the sun, you will need to be on the line of totality. The line of totality is located on a 115 km-wide path spanning from the west coast of the United States to the east coast. The rest of us will experience a partial eclipse on August 21st. Your view of the eclipse and the percentage of the sun that is covered will depend on how close you are to the line of totality.

How Do I Keep Workers Safe During the Eclipse?

Because it is an exciting and stunning natural phenomenon, it’s an understandable reaction to want to witness the splendor of a total eclipse. However, any employee that looks directly at the eclipse with their naked eye risks eye damage and blindness. Take reasonable precautions to protect employees by circulating a written memo that outlines the following:

  • The exact time the eclipse starts and finishes in your exact location
  • Your company officially advises all workers to avoid looking at the sun during this time
  • Your company does not advise viewing the eclipse with the naked eye
  • For outdoor workers, recommend that if possible, they be indoors during the eclipse
  • If being indoors is impossible, workers must avoid looking at the sun
  • For the duration of totality, there will be darkness, and work can be ceased during this time (two-minute duration) and until adequate light from the sun is restored

Workers who read and understand the memo and still choose to view the eclipse do so on their own accord. As an employer, circulating a memo demonstrates due diligence on your behalf, and reasonable precaution for worker safety during this natural celestial event.

General Solar Eclipse Safety Tips:

  • Do not look directly at the sun during any part of the total solar eclipse
  • If you would like to view the eclipse using eclipse glasses, ensure that they are ISO-certified, and bear the number ISO-12312-2:2015
  • Glasses not bearing the ISO certification are NOT safe for viewing and should be discarded
  • Glasses with scratches or rips on the viewing film should be discarded
  • Supervise children using eclipses glasses
  • Turn away from the sun to don glasses and when you remove glasses
  • Pinhole projectors are safe 
  • Do not attempt to view the eclipse through your camera or a telescope unless you are using an eclipse filter on the lens – it will damage your eyes and your camera!
  • Beware that during totality, it will be completely dark allowing you to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of seeing stars during daylight hours – but do be aware of trip hazards, pedestrians, cars, etc.

Please exercise caution while you enjoy the eclipse August 21st, 2017. The next North American total solar eclipse won’t be until 2024! If you have any more questions, please contact us!

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Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator


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