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It was a solar eclipse of the heart across America — and one of the mind for employers when it came to workplace safety issues.
This year saw a rare total solar eclipse, the first time that has been visible in the United States since 1979. The solar eclipse occurred Aug. 21 and was the most watched and photographed eclipse in history, according to media reports. It was visible from cities including Portland, Oregon; Denver; Kansas City, Missouri; Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
With such widespread interest, employers who planned solar eclipse office viewing parties needed to be mindful of employee safety and workers compensation concerns. Employees injured at mandatory employer-sponsored eclipse viewing parties may be covered under workers comp, according to legal experts. An article about workplace safety concerns related to the eclipse was the third most read Workers Compensation story on Business Insurance’s website in 2017.
NASA’s safety guidelines served as a navigation tool for employers. People who attended a viewing party were advised not to look directly at the sun and not to look at the sun through a camera, binoculars, telescope or other optical devices. Using solar filters with those devices can cause eye injuries, according to NASA.
Amy K. Harper, journey to safety excellence and workplace strategy director at the National Safety Council in Itasca, Illinois, said at the time that if an employer wanted to throw a party, they were responsible for providing viewing glasses compliant with safety standards.