Adhering to ISO Standards and not being scammed during the Total Eclipse

Research is creating new knowledge – Neil Armstrong

DIS-TRAN Packaged Substations is in the process of receiving its ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification. While the ISO does not enforce regulations, it does standardize how businesses and organizations involved in commerce and industry manage information and processes. The act of becoming ISO certified can be tedious and as DIS-TRAN standardizes its day-to-day procedures, it also applies ISO standards to not-so-ordinary events, like August 21’s total eclipse.

Like millions of workers, DIS-TRAN employees will be at work during the two hours the moon will pass directly in front of the sun. We do not want our team to miss this rare phenomenon. (This will be the first solar eclipse visible from anywhere on mainland United States since the total solar eclipse in March 1979). So DIS-TRAN planned a special event for the solar occasion.

The eclipse viewing party will take place during the lunch hour. Employees will bring their lunches to eat outside on our ground’s west lawn. DIS-TRAN will provide Moon Pies, RC Cola, and eclipse glasses. However, finding safe eclipse glasses proved to be a challenge.

In order to avoid the harmful effects of staring directly at the sun’s rays, you need special eclipse glasses. While trying to order 100 glasses for our team, Tamie Fingleton, DIS-TRAN’s Communications and Events Coordinator, came across many dangerous counterfeit glasses for sale online. “I first ordered glasses through Amazon. However, the more I researched, the more I became concerned. I noticed Amazon was really cracking down on counterfeit sellers. I ended up canceling the order,” says Tamie. “I was terrified that I could potentially buy the wrong pair and make one of our employees go blind!”

Tamie worked with DIS-TRAN’s Quality Assurance Manager, Tom Malo, to ensure the glasses we give our team members Monday are safe. They researched and referenced the standards we use when purchasing protective glasses for DIS-TRAN’s welders. (The only welding filters that are safe for direct viewing of the sun with your eyes are those of shade 12 or higher.) They also looked for the glasses to have the ISO stamp of approval. “You would think that means they are safe, but that’s not always the case,” explains Tamie. "Deceptive vendors can grab the ISO logo off the internet and put it on their products even if their eclipse glasses are not properly tested." DIS-TRAN looked for the following safety guideline to be clearly marked on the glasses:

ISO 12312-2 (ISO 12312-2:2015) – This is the international safety standard needed to safely view a solar eclipse. Filters that are ISO 12312-2 compliant both reduce visible sunlight to safe levels but also block solar UV and IR radiation.

To further check eclipse glasses' ISO claims, you can check if the glasses come from a verified vendor with the American Astronomical Society (AAS). The AAS checks to make sure a manufacturer earned its ISO rating with proper, lab-based testing. A vendor should also be able to provide you with the following documents:

  • CE Certification (example)
  • ISO Certification (example)

While the only way to truly make sure your glasses block UV and IR radiation is in a lab with expensive equipment, DIS-TRAN found a few testing tips recommended by AAS that you can do at home:

  • Solar eclipse glasses should be darker than sunglasses.
  • You should not be able to see anything through the glasses except the sun itself, or something similarly bright.
  • Check sunlight reflected off a mirror.
  • If the sun is behind clouds, you can use a bright-white LED, like the flashlight on your phone or a bare light bulb.
  • Reflected sunlight or bright, artificial light should appear extremely dim through safe eclipse glasses.

“It's really sad that there are scammers out there willing to potentially hurt others so they can make a profit," says Tamie. "But we are so excited to be able to share this rare experience with our work family and feel even better about the event knowing we are going to view the solar eclipse safely.”

DIS-TRAN will be ISO certified by 2019.