Health and Safety

All who visit the research station must adhere to the BAS/NERC “Code of Conduct and Safety Policy”. A general safety briefing is also provided at Ny-Ålesund on arrival at the Station.

  1. We advise you have a valid first-aid certificate
  2. All project team members must ensure that they have appropriate insurance cover in place either through their institution or elsewhere for all activities they are engaged in during the work covered by this approval letter. This includes, where relevant, the carrying of firearms; use of and transport in boats; use of skidoos; glacier travel; search and rescue; and carrying of equipment to and from field sites. Please note that is the responsibility of the project team leader and individuals to ensure they have the correct cover.
  3. Close attention must be given to clothing and equipment. Please see the section “Personal Clothing and Equipment”.
  4. NERC requires assurance that each individual has sufficient field skills and experience to carry out their planned research.
  5. Those planning to travel on mountains and/or glaciers should have past experience. Mountain and glacier training and briefing sessions are provided at Ny-Ålesund. Snow scooter training is also provided. Employing a suitably skilled “field assistant” is strongly advised. Costs for this are to be met by the project.
  6. Those planning to live in field huts should also consider employment of a suitably skilled “field assistant”. Please contact the Station Manager to discuss equipment, food, communication etc.
  7. Please note, personnel will not be allowed to work alone in the field.
  8. For protection from attack by polar bear each group must carry a NERC owned or approved rifle outside the immediate station area.  In 2021 the Norwegian Government imposed new rifle laws in Svalbard. Rifle bearers must hold a Svalbard rifle permit provided by the Svalbard Governor’s office. Permit applications, which can take up to 6 weeks to process, must be accompanied by a police background check (issued in your home nation) and proof of rifle training. BAS Operations will assist in booking an approved course. In addition, Personnel who plan to carry a rifle will be further assessed by the NERC Station Manager/Deputy Station Manager on arrival in Ny-Ålesund as part of the Station briefings. Any queries on the above, please contact the Station Manager.
  9. Slippers or clogs must be worn in the laboratories. Outdoor shoes are not worn indoors.
  10. Laboratory protective clothing including coats, face masks, gloves and goggles are provided.
  11. Chemicals must be labelled. Each chemical container must also bear the name of the owner.
  12. Arrangements should be made for the safe use and storage of chemicals and their return to the UK at the end of your stay in Ny-Ålesund. Chemicals and waste chemicals can be sent to Norway for disposal by Kings Bay. Please contact the Station Manager to discuss costs.
  13. Those intending to use chemicals must provide the Station Manager with completed COSHH forms.
  14. You must provide the Station Manager with a detailed general risk assessment. The following section provides further details.

Please see the Station Equipment section for information on field safety equipment available on station.

Health care

Ny-Ålesund has a small surgery. There is no permanent doctor or nurse on site. Anyone suffering serious illness or injury can be flown, weather permitting, to a hospital in Longyearbyen.

All visitors to Ny-Ålesund should be medically fit. The BAS Operations Team will send all field team members medical details forms which will then be assessed by the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit (BASMU). As part of this process, all field team members will also be required to complete a medical. The cost of the medicals for each field team member will need to be met by the project. Medical details forms and medicals should be completed at least six weeks prior to departure from the UK. Any individual medical concerns should be discussed in confidence with BASMU prior to departure from the UK.

A dental check up before departure from the UK is recommended.

Individuals must make sure they purchase appropriate travel insurance with adequate healthcare cover prior to travel to the NERC Arctic Station.

Risk Assessments

Before departure for Svalbard, Principle Investigators should prepare a risk assessment including a list of personnel. The risk assessment should also include all field and base activity (including lab work) and any risks due to Svalbard’s remote location. Please state actions to minimise each risk.

The risk assessment should be signed and dated by the individuals concerned and by their employer. Please send copies to the Station Manager ( 4 weeks before departure from your home nation. Some generic risk assessments are available, please contact Iain Rudkin ( for further information.


For any chemicals, you must complete a Chemical Approval Request Form prior to departure to Ny-Alesund. This will need to be sent to the Station Manager and the BAS Health and Safety Adviser.

COSHH forms must be completed and forwarded to the Station Manager well in advance of departure for Svalbard.

All proposals that intend to use radioactive isotopes require the approval of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Radioactive Isotope Advisory Committee. Proposals must be submitted with the authorised risk assessment and must include details of the isotope, its activity, its use, handling, storage, and disposal.

Individuals are responsible for the import and export of chemicals to and from the station. Chemicals must be returned to the UK at the end of your visit.

Chemicals must have clear labels, must be packed and stored correctly and must bear the name of the owner on each container.

Chemicals can be purchased in Norway and sent there for disposal. Please contact the Station Manager for details.