Assessor Resource

Apply electrophoretic techniques

Assessment tool

Version 1.0
Issue Date: February 2019

This unit of competency is applicable to laboratory technical officers working in all industry sectors. All operations and analytical methods must comply with relevant standards, appropriate procedures and/or enterprise requirements. Although a supervisor may not always be present, the technician will follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) that clearly describe their scope of permitted practice, including varying enterprise/test procedures and communicating results to people outside the laboratory.

Industry representatives have provided case studies to illustrate the practical application of this unit of competency and to show its relevance in a workplace setting. These can be found at the end of this unit of competency under the section 'This competency in practice'.

This unit of competency covers the ability to analyse samples using electrophoretic techniques. The unit also includes establishing client needs for routine and non-routine samples, optimising enterprise procedures and instruments for specific samples, obtaining valid and reliable data and reporting test results. Personnel are required to recognise atypical test data/results and troubleshoot common analytical procedure and equipment problems.

You may want to include more information here about the target group and the purpose of the assessments (eg formative, summative, recognition)



Prepare working solutions



Prepare, standardise and use solutions


Perform chemical tests and procedures

Employability Skills

This unit contains employability skills.

Evidence Required

List the assessment methods to be used and the context and resources required for assessment. Copy and paste the relevant sections from the evidence guide below and then re-write these in plain English.

The Evidence Guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment

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

Assessors should ensure that candidates can:

interpret client requests, test methods and procedures accurately

safely set up and shut down equipment using enterprise procedures

check the calibration/qualification status of equipment

prepare standards and samples appropriately

choose and optimise procedures and equipment settings to suit sample/test requirements

operate equipment to obtain valid and reliable data

make approved adjustments to procedures for non-routine samples

recognise atypical data/results

troubleshoot common analytical procedure and equipment problems

apply theoretical knowledge to interpret data and make relevant conclusions

record and report data/results in accordance with enterprise procedures

maintain security, integrity and traceability of samples and documentation

follow OHS procedures and principles of GLP.

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:

MSL925001A Analyse data and report results.

Resources may include:

standard laboratory equipped with routine electrophoresis equipment, laboratory reagents and equipment

SOPs and testing methods.

Method of assessment

The following assessment methods are suggested:

review of test data/results obtained by the candidate over time to ensure accuracy, consistency and timeliness of results

inspection of test records and workplace documentation completed by the candidate

feedback from peers and supervisors

observation of candidate applying a range of electrophoretic techniques

oral or written questioning of chemical principles and concepts, electrophoretic techniques and enterprise procedures.

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.


The advent of DNA typing in the mid-1980s has enormously increased the ability of forensic technicians to identify individuals uniquely by testing a variety of their body fluids found at the crime scene. The samples obtained from the scene are first treated to extract the DNA with short tandem repeated (STR) markers. After isolating the DNA from its cells, specific regions are copied by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The resulting PCR products are then separated and detected in order to characterise the STR region being examined. The most common separation methods used today are slab gel and capillary electrophoresis (CE).

Given the enormous number of DNA samples to be processed, technicians frequently run fully automated injection, separation and detection stops. They use computerised data acquisition to enable rapid analysis and subsequent searching of digital storage of DNA results.

Food processing

Technicians who work in the food and beverage processing industries regularly monitor the purity of food additives, such as dyes and colouring agents in products, such as sweets and soft drinks. For example, technicians may sample a batch of soft drink by low temperature evaporation of a known percentage of the water and then subject the remains to electrophoresis separation technique. In this way, both the identification and concentration of a dye (or other additive) present in the soft drink can be determined. Technicians may also be required to examine the electrophoresis results for any indication of harmful or toxic impurities, which may have inadvertently contaminated the product. Quality control and use of appropriate standards are important components of these analytical procedures.

Submission Requirements

List each assessment task's title, type (eg project, observation/demonstration, essay, assingnment, checklist) and due date here

Assessment task 1: [title]      Due date:

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Assessment Tasks

Copy and paste from the following data to produce each assessment task. Write these in plain English and spell out how, when and where the task is to be carried out, under what conditions, and what resources are needed. Include guidelines about how well the candidate has to perform a task for it to be judged satisfactory.

Required skills

Required skills include:

interpreting client requests, test methods and procedures

setting up and shutting down equipment safely and following enterprise procedures

checking the calibration/qualification status of equipment

preparing standards and samples

choosing and optimising procedures and equipment settings to suit sample/test requirements

operating equipment to obtain valid and reliable data

making approved adjustments to procedures for non-routine samples

recognising atypical data/results

identifying potential sources of uncertainty

troubleshooting common analytical procedure and equipment problems

applying theoretical knowledge to interpret data and make relevant conclusions

calculating, recording and reporting data/results in accordance with enterprise procedures

maintaining security, integrity and traceability of samples and documentation

followingoccupational health and safety (OHS) procedures and principles of good laboratory practice (GLP)

Required knowledge

Required knowledge includes:

electrophoretic principles and concepts related to instrumentation operation, material preparation and testing

handling of unstable or hazardous chemicals or samples and/or the fragile/labile nature of biological material

sample preparation procedures

function of key components of the equipment

use of different electrophoresis procedures for analysis of specific samples

effects on results of modifying instrumental variables, such as field strength, constant current and constant power

procedures for optimising separation through changing operation parameters, such as buffers, pH and detection methods

basic procedure and equipment troubleshooting procedures

preparation and use of calibration charts and/or standards

calculation procedures to give results in appropriate precision, units and uncertainty

basic equipment maintenance procedures

enterprise and/or legal traceability requirements

relevant health, safety and environment requirements

Specific industry

Additional knowledge requirements may apply for different industry sectors. For example:

Biomedical and environmental services:

techniques that capitalise on biological properties to assist in electrophoretic separations

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

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 may include:

Australian and international standards, such as:

AS ISO 17025-2005 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories

AS/NZS 2243 Set:2006 Safety in laboratories set

AS/NZS 2982.1:1997 Laboratory design and construction - General requirements

AS/NZS ISO 14000 Set:2005 Environmental management standards set

AS/NZS ISO 9000 Set:2008 Quality management systems set

AS ISO 1000-1998 The international system of units (SI) and its application

Australian code of good manufacturing practice for medicinal products (GMP)

calibration and maintenance schedules

cleaning, hygiene and personal hygiene requirements

data quality procedures

enterprise procedures, SOPs and operating manuals

enterprise recording and reporting procedures

equipment startup, operation and shutdown procedures

incident and accident/injury reports

material safety data sheets (MSDS)

material, production and product specifications

national measurement regulations and guidelines

principles of GLP

production and laboratory schedules

quality manuals, equipment and procedure manuals

quality system and continued improvement processes

safety requirements for equipment, materials or products

sampling procedures (labelling, preparation, storage, transport and disposal)

schematics, work flows and laboratory layouts

statutory and enterprise OHS requirements

stock records and inventory

test procedures (validated and authorised)

training program contents

waste minimisation, containment, processing and disposal procedures

Electrophoretic methods, including both analytical and preparative procedures

Electrophoretic methods, including both analytical and preparative procedures, may use:

vertical or horizontal apparatus

support materials, such as cellulose acetate

gels, such as agarose and polyacrylamide

buffer solutions

denaturing electrophoresis, such as SDS-PAGE

blot transfer procedures in conjunction with electrophoresis, such as Western and Southern Blot transfers, agarose and polyacrylamide DNA gels

capillary electrophoresis

Preparation of sample

Preparation of sample may include pre-treatment processes, such as:

identification of any hazardous properties associated with the samples and/or analytical chemicals

grinding, dissolving, extraction, centrifuging, refluxing, evaporation, washing and drying

determination of and, if appropriate, removal of any contaminants, impurities or interfering substances


Tests may include methods for:

control of starting materials, in-process materials and finished products (e.g. food and manufacturing)

therapeutic drug analysis

forensic testing

diagnostic pathology tests

determination of chemical analytes

special conditions for handling minute sample volumes

environmental monitoring

problem solving techniques for non-routine samples

troubleshooting enterprise processes

Common analytical procedure and equipment problems

Common analytical procedure and equipment problems may include:

problems with interfering substances

inappropriate support material or operating procedures

toxic or hazardous materials, including impurities in samples

lack of suitable or high purity reference standards

changes in operating variables, such as field strength, constant current, constant power, buffers and pH

problems with obtaining adequate sample volume


Hazards may include:

electric shock


microbiological organisms and agents associated with soil, air, water, blood and blood products, and human or animal tissue and fluids




acids (e.g. sulphuric, perchloric and hydrofluoric)

hazardous materials, heavy metals, pesticides

sharps and broken glassware

aerosols from broken centrifuge tubes and pipetting

flammable liquids and gases

cryogenics, such as dry ice and liquid nitrogen

sources of ignition

disturbance or interruption of services

Addressing hazards

Addressing hazards may involve:

use of MSDS

labelling of samples, reagents, aliquoted samples and hazardous materials

personal protective equipment, such as gloves, safety glasses and coveralls

use of fumehoods and direct extraction of vapours and gases

use of appropriate equipment, such as biohazard containers, laminar flow cabinets, Class I, II and III biohazard cabinets

use of Class PCII, PCIII and PCIV physical containment laboratories

handling and storage of all hazardous materials and equipment in accordance with labelling, MSDS and manufacturer's instructions

Occupational health and safety (OHS) and environmental management requirements

OHS and environmental management requirements:

all operations must comply with enterprise OHS and environmental management requirements, which may be imposed through state/territory or federal legislation - these requirements must not be compromised at any time

all operations assume the potentially hazardous nature of samples and require standard precautions to be applied

where relevant, users should access and apply current industry understanding of infection control issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and State and Territory Departments of Health

Copy and paste from the following performance criteria to create an observation checklist for each task. When you have finished writing your assessment tool every one of these must have been addressed, preferably several times in a variety of contexts. To ensure this occurs download the assessment matrix for the unit; enter each assessment task as a column header and place check marks against each performance criteria that task addresses.

Observation Checklist

Tasks to be observed according to workplace/college/TAFE policy and procedures, relevant legislation and Codes of Practice Yes No Comments/feedback
Liaise with client or sample provider to determine client needs and sample history 
Record sample description, compare with specification and record and report discrepancies 
Identify non-routine samples and the possible need to vary enterprise procedures 
Seek advice from supervisor about any proposed variations and document all approved changes 
Schedule analysis using enterprise procedures 
Obtain a representative analytical portion of the laboratory sample 
Prepare sample in accordance with testing requirements 
Prepare validation checks for analytical portion 
Perform pre-use and safety checks in accordance with enterprise procedures 
Start up and condition the instrument using enterprise procedures 
Optimise instrumental parameters to suit sample and test requirements 
Check calibration status of instrument and perform calibration using specified standards and procedures, if applicable 
Measure analyte response for standards, validation checks and samples 
Conduct sufficient measurements to obtain reliable data 
Return instruments to standby or shutdown condition as required 
Confirm data is the result of valid measurements 
Perform required calculations and ensure results are consistent with standards or estimations and expectations 
Record results with the appropriate accuracy, precision and units 
Analyse trends in data and/or results and report out of specification or atypical results promptly to appropriate personnel 
Troubleshoot analytical procedure or equipment problems which have led to atypical data or results 
Identify risks, hazards, safety equipment and control measures associated with sample handling, preparation and analytical method 
Use personal protective equipment and safety procedures specified for test method and materials to be tested 
Minimise the generation of wastes and environmental impacts 
Ensure the safe disposal of laboratory wastes 
Clean, care for and store equipment and consumables in accordance with enterprise procedures 
Enter approved data and results into laboratory information management system 
Maintain equipment logs in accordance with enterprise procedures 
Maintain security, integrity and traceability of samples and documentation 
Communicate results to appropriate personnel 


Assessment Cover Sheet

MSL975008A - Apply electrophoretic techniques
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Assessment Record Sheet

MSL975008A - Apply electrophoretic techniques

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