HSE plans and measures

UNIS internal Covid-19 regulations


The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is located in Longyearbyen at latitude of 78° North. It is a small town of approximately 2 200 inhabitants which has its own local hospital. The nearest regional hospital is located in Tromsø, Norway, a two-hour flight away.

A large part of UNIS’ activities includes field work which often takes place far from Longyearbyen and with limited access to medical assistance. On some of the excursions, participants are transported several days away from Longyearbyen by ship. They work in the field often without radio contact to the ship. Also during winter, fieldwork is conducted in remote areas by use of snow scooters as transportation. This kind of fieldwork requires that the participants are in good physical condition.  A medical emergency will, in these situations, require an ambulance helicopter. Due to the large distances, rapidly shifting weather conditions and uncertain communications in some areas, this might take some time.

As a course- or project participant you have an obligation to report chronic conditions or other health related conditions, which could be of importance when it comes to accomplishing the most demanding field activities.  Please contact UNIS prior to your arrival if you have any questions related to health issues and how it might affect your stay in Svalbard.



Emergency Preparedness Plan (PDF)

HSE fieldwork plan (.doc) – to be filled out before fieldwork

UNIS safety folder (PDFs)

English Norwegian German French Russian


Useful safety links (powerpoint)

UNIS fieldwork instructions (PDFs)

UNIS safety instructions for fieldwork and excursions (PDF) Acknowledgement of reading the safety instructions (PDF)


Divergency, notifications and whistleblowing at UNIS

UNIS strive for a safe and engaging working and learning environment and need feedback from you to improve and to register damages, divergencies, injuries or violation of UNIS rules or ethical standards. Report divergencies and tell us when you are satisfied or when something needs improvement.

We ask you in particular to give notice of serious, critical issues.

For reportings, notifications and whistleblowing: UNIS Speak-up system.


UNIS Laboratories

UNIS can offer new, modern laboratory facilities. Planning and execution of lab work at UNIS, safety instructions, HSE documentation and more are found on the dedicated Lab Services page. 


Access to firearms through UNIS

Access to firearms at UNIS will require one of the following documentations:

  • A valid weapon license stating that you are permitted to own a firearm.


  • Permission from The Governor on Svalbard (Sysselmannen), stating that you are allowed to rent a rifle for polar bear protection on Svalbard. You can obtain this permission by following the description on the Governor’s web page:


In addition to the documentation and regulations stated above, the following is required:

  • You will need to have completed and passed the UNIS rifle safety training within the last 6 months
  • You will have to demonstrate, when collecting the rifle, that you are able to handle the rifle correctly, by demonstrating half-loading and emptying the rifle.

Practical arrangements
When collecting a rifle through UNIS, you need to bring a copy of your weapon license or permission from the Governor on Svalbard as documentation. When you get a rifle from UNIS, you will also get a rental registration form. You need to bring this form with you at all times as long as you are carrying the rifle.

UNIS firearms policy (PDF)

Natural environment and cultural heritage:

UNIS Environmental Standard
UNIS engages in field-based research and education over much of Svalbard throughout the year. Thus, UNIS will conduct field-based teaching and research so as to cause the minimal impact on Svalbard’s fragile environment. We shall have a thorough understanding of how our activity may negatively impact the environment and how we can avert the impacts. All persons at UNIS shall have necessary training so as to be able to use the tools and aids that will prevent harmful impacts during their fieldwork.

Please have a look at our environmental standard goals before your arrival in Svalbard:

UNIS environmental standard goals (PDF)

Working environment

UNIS has a working environment committee, whose main task is to ensure a fully satisfactory working environment at UNIS. The committee participates in planning the safety and environment work and follows up closely questions relating to the safety, health and welfare of the employees at UNIS.

Working environment committee
The Working environment committee at UNIS has a mandate to oversee that employees at UNIS has a fully safe working environment in all aspects. The committee meets at least four times a year and handles cases according to a fixed agenda, In addition to cases raised from the employees or the management at UNIS. The Occupational health service (from Longyearbyen hospital) is a permanent member of the working environment comity.

Click the button below for more info, or make contact with Fred Skancke Hansen, fredh@unis.no

Read more about the the regulations made by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority:

The Working Environment Act

Field safety information lessons:

UNIS emphasizes strongly HSE matters. Whether you are an incoming student or researcher planning to come to Svalbard, you can find useful information below in the different PDF presentations highlighting the challenges you will meet in the Svalbard environment. Please have a look at them to prepare yourself for your Svalbard stay.  Note that these presentations just give a general overview of risk factors you will encounter in Svalbard.

Possible risk scenarios in Svalbard

Risk scenarios – winter fieldwork (PDF)                            Risk scenarios – summer fieldwork (PDF)

Clothing and First aid

Correct clothing in Svalbard (PDF)                                    Practical first aid in Arctic conditions (PDF)


Glaciers in Svalbard (PDF)                                                  Dangerous areas on glaciers (PDF)

Sea ice

Introduction (PDF)                                                                Sea ice and risks (PDF)                                               Travelling on sea ice (PDF)

Avalanches and weather

Avalanche basics (PDF)                                                       Weather conditions in Svalbard (PDF)

Snowmobile driving

UNIS snowmobile course (PDF)


Information from external websites:

Svalbard’s wildlife The Polar Bear
The Flora of Svalbard The Cruise Handbook for Svalbard
Rabies in Svalbard The vole parasite (Echinococcus multilocularis) 



Instructional videos in weapons’ handling made by the Logistics department at UNIS:

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