Home - MSL09 - MSL974003A


Perform chemical tests and procedures

Unit Descriptor This unit of competency covers the ability to interpret chemical test requirements, prepare samples, conduct pre-use and calibration checks on equipment and perform routine chemical tests/procedures. These tests will involve several measurement steps. The unit includes data processing and interpretation of results and tracking of obvious test malfunctions where the procedure is standardised. However, personnel are not required to analyse data, optimise tests/procedures for specific samples or troubleshoot equipment problems where the solution is not apparent.

1 . Interpret and schedule test requirements

  1. Review test request to identify samples to be tested, test method and equipment/instruments involved

  2. Identify hazards and enterprise control measures associated with the sample, preparation/test methods, reagents and/or equipment

  3. Plan work sequences to optimise throughput of multiple samples, if appropriate

2 . Receive and prepare samples

  1. Log samples using standard operating procedures (SOPs)

  2. Record sample description, compare with specification and note and report discrepancies

  3. Prepare samples and standards in accordance with chemical testing requirements

  4. Ensure traceability of samples from receipt to reporting of results

3 . Check equipment before use

  1. Set up equipment/instruments in accordance with test method requirements

  2. Perform pre-use and safety checks in accordance with relevant enterprise and operating procedures

  3. Identify faulty or unsafe components and equipment and report to appropriate personnel

  4. Check equipment calibration using specified standards and procedures, if applicable

  5. Quarantine out of calibration equipment/instruments

  6. Ensure reagents required for the test are available and meet quality requirements

4 . Test samples to determine chemical species or properties

  1. Operate equipment/instruments in accordance with test method requirements

  2. Perform tests/procedures on all samples and standards, if appropriate, in accordance with specified methods

  3. Shut down equipment/instruments in accordance with operating procedures

5 . Process and interpret data

  1. Record test data noting atypical observations

  2. Construct calibration graphs, if appropriate, and compute results for all samples from these graphs

  3. Ensure calculated values are consistent with expectations

  4. Record and report results in accordance with enterprise procedures

  5. Estimate and document uncertainty of measurement in accordance with enterprise procedures, if required

  6. Interpret trends in data and/or results and report out of specification or atypical results promptly to appropriate personnel

  7. Determine if obvious procedure or equipment problems have led to atypical data or results

6 . Maintain a safe work environment

  1. Use established safe work practices and personal protective equipment to ensure personal safety and that of other laboratory personnel

  2. Minimise the generation of wastes and environmental impacts

  3. Ensure the safe collection of laboratory and hazardous waste for subsequent disposal

  4. Care for and store equipment and reagents as required

7 . Maintain laboratory records

  1. Enter approved data into laboratory information management system

  2. Maintain confidentiality and security of enterprise information and laboratory data

  3. Maintain equipment and calibration logs in accordance with enterprise procedures

Key CompetencyExamples of ApplicationPerformance
How can information be collected, analysed and organised?
How are ideas and information communicated within this competency?
How are activities planned and organised?
How are problem solving skills applied?
How are mathematical ideas and techniques used?
How is use of technology applied?
How is team work used within this competency?

Range Statement

Codes of practice

Where reference is made to industry codes of practice, and/or Australian/international standards, it is expected the latest version will be used

Standards, codes, procedures and/or enterprise requirements

Standards, codes, procedures and/or enterprise requirements may include:

Sample preparation processes

Sample preparation processes may include:

Non-instrumental test/procedures

Non-instrumental test/procedures may include:

Instrumental tests

Instrumental tests may include:

Types of instrumentation and instrumental techniques

Types of instrumentation and instrumental techniques may include:

Chemical principles and concepts

Chemical principles and concepts may include:

Chemical tests methods

Chemical tests methods may include:


Hazards may include:

Hazard control measures:

Hazard control measures may include:


Records may include:

Occupational health and safety (OHS) and environmental management requirements

OHS and environmental management requirements:

Evidence Guide

Overview of assessment

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit

Assessors should ensure that candidates can:

Context of and specific resources for assessment

This unit of competency is to be assessed in the workplace or simulated workplace environment.

This unit of competency may be assessed with:

Resources may include:

Method of assessment

The following assessment methods are suggested:

In all cases, practical assessment should be supported by questions to assess underpinning knowledge and those aspects of competency which are difficult to assess directly.

Where applicable, reasonable adjustment must be made to work environments and training situations to accommodate ethnicity, age, gender, demographics and disability.

Access must be provided to appropriate learning and/or assessment support when required.

The language, literacy and numeracy demands of assessment should not be greater than those required to undertake the unit of competency in a work like environment.

This competency in practice

Industry representatives have provided the case studies below to illustrate the practical application of this unit of competency and to show its relevance in a workplace setting.


Ultraviolet spectroscopy is a suitable method for determining the concentration of sulphanilamide in pharmaceutical preparations. The ultraviolet absorption spectrum is pH dependent, with the wavelength maximum different in acid and alkaline solutions. Example: a technician was conducting an analysis and noted that the wavelength maxima had moved from approximately 250 nm to below 230 nm. After reviewing the procedure being used and checking for possible errors, the technician found that an incorrect solvent had been used for the analysis. The hydrochloric acid solvent was replaced with sodium hydroxide, as per the standard method, and the correct absorption spectrum was obtained.


A technician was asked to test water samples from a local lake over several days to determine the lake's nutrient levels following reports of algal blooms in the lake over the preceding weeks. He/she used a field colorimeter kit to determine both nitrates and orthophosphates using SOPs. Because the same colorimetric cells were used for the nitrate and orthophosphate tests, they were carefully washed and rinsed with distilled water between all tests (as specified in the SOP). After reviewing the results from the first three days, the technician noted that the first orthophosphate result, which was done immediately after all the nitrate tests, was much higher than subsequent orthophosphate tests which were all consistently low. The technician argued that the 'high' results for the first orthophosphate test may be due to cross-contamination from trace amounts of reagents used in previous nitrate tests despite having closely followed the cleaning/rinsing SOPs. After discussion with his/her supervisor, the technician modified the field procedures by using totally different colorimetric cells for the nitrate and orthophosphate tests. For all subsequent tests no 'high' orthophosphate results were obtained for the first sample. As a result, the laboratory supervisor amended the SOPs to incorporate this new requirement.

Food processing

Regular checks are conducted on the percentage of salt in cheese at a dairy company's laboratory. A technician checks the results from the airomatic salt-titration equipment and, if the results are abnormal, notifies the supervisor before taking appropriate action. After obtaining a high result, for example, the assistant notified the supervisor and then began checking the machine to identify a possible reason for the high reading. He/she found that the supply bottle of silver nitrate used in the test was almost empty. This had resulted in less solution being pumped through the equipment than required, leading to graph readings that indicated a high percentage of salt. After replacing the silver nitrate bottle and recalibrating the equipment, the assistant retested the cheese samples and found that they contained the expected 1-2% salt.