On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of the U.S. Because of the significance and uniqueness in the temporary covering of the sun, many people may stop work to witness this event. To prevent injuries and possible damage to equipment, we are training all employees on the hazards of viewing this event without proper eye protection, including specific precautions discussed below. Additionally, Project Managers should prepare for the possibility of a 10 to 15-minute work delay on project sites, so employees are not distracted during critical work activities. The total eclipse portion will last approximately 2 to 3 minutes, depending on location and the portion of the path you are in.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created a website showcasing the effect of the solar eclipse. It allows for input of specific locations, providing people information about the optimum viewing time to witness this event and how much of the eclipse will be visible in their area. This information is available at https://eyes.jpl.nasa.gov/eyes-on-eclipse-web-app.html.
Is it safe to look at a total or partial solar eclipse?
The only time that the sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye is during a complete total eclipse; that is when the moon completely covers all parts of the sun. But because the total eclipse only lasts for a few seconds, it is not safe to look the sun without proper eye protection. In addition, it is also not safe to look at a partial eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the eye protection. Without proper eye protection, the sun’s ultra-violet (UV) radiation can burn the retinas in the eyes, leading to permanent damage or even blindness. This can occur even if your eyes are exposed to direct sunlight for just a few seconds.
According to NASA, the following materials should NOT be used to view a solar eclipse:
- Sunglasses of any kind
- Color film
- Medical e-ray film
How can I safely look at the total or partial eclipse?
The only way to safely view the sun – eclipsed or not – is to either project or filter the sun’s rays. Never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection. Sunglasses cannot protect your eyes from the damage of the sun’s rays.
What are eclipse glasses?
Per NASA, “The lenses of eclipse glasses are made of our exclusive scratch resistant optical density 5, ‘black polymer’ material. Eclipse shades filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet, 100% of harmful infrared, and 99.999% of intense visible light. These premium filters create a sharper, ORANGE colored image of the sun.”
NASA also recommends welder’s glasses rated 14 or higher, but keep in mind that welder glass grading may be different when manufactured in various countries.
Distracted driving is also a very serious issue to consider, and all employees should proceed cautiously while operating a vehicle or equipment during this event.