Unit of competency details

HLTPAT317C - Operate effectively within a pathology testing environment (Release 1)


ReleaseStatusRelease date
1 1 (this release)Current 07/May/2012

Usage recommendation:
The Deleted usage recommendation was implemented on 13 June 2017 to describe training components that have no replacement. Enrolments in training components and statements of attainment or qualifications issued before 13 June 2017 are valid. For any components marked as deleted after 13 June 2017, the applicable transition/teach-out periods apply. For specific questions regarding the enrolment, delivery or issuance of a statement of attainment/qualification, please contact your training regulator.
DeletedDeleted from HLT07 Health Training Package07/Dec/2015
Supersedes and is equivalent to HLTPAT317B - Operate effectively within a pathology testing environmentISC upgrade changes to remove references to old OHS legislation and replace with references to new WHS legislation. No change to competency outcome.06/May/2012

Training packages that include this unit


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 019909 Laboratory Technology  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 019909 Laboratory Technology  02/Oct/2012 
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Modification History

HLT07 Version 4

HLT07 Version 5


HLTPAT317B Operate effectively within a pathology testing environment

HLTPAT317C - Operate effectively within a pathology testing environment

Unit updated in V5.

ISC upgrade changes to remove references to old OHS legislation and replace with references to new WHS legislation. No change to competency outcome.

Unit Descriptor


This unit of competency describes the skills and knowledge required by workers in a pathology laboratory who perform work that reflects an understanding of the structure and profile of the industry, the roles and relationships within and across the industry and key issues facing the industry

Application of the Unit


The application of knowledge and skills described in this competency unit relates to functions necessary for working within a Pathology laboratory

Work at this level may be undertaken independently or under guidance and/or supervision

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Not Applicable


Not Applicable

Employability Skills Information

Employability Skills 

This unit contains Employability Skills

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements define the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

The Performance Criteria specify the level of performance required to demonstrate achievement of the Element. Terms in italics are elaborated in the Range Statement.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Demonstrate an understanding of the structure and profile of the pathology industry

1.1 Describe the organisation of the pathology industry

1.2 Explain the relationships between the different occupations and modes of practice within pathology.

1.3 Observe and describe the operation of a typical laboratory.

1.4 Identify current legislation that impacts on pathology laboratories

2. Develop a knowledge of different sectors and roles within a pathology laboratory

2.1 Identify the roles and responsibilities of different workers within a pathology laboratory

2.2 Identify the role and responsibilities of pathology assistants including when and from whom to seek advice

2.3 Develop an understanding of the different sections within a pathology laboratory

3. Develop an understanding of specimen processing

3.1 Adopt recommended safety precautions when handling biologically hazardous specimens

3.2 Follow organisation guidelines in the handling of urgent samples

3.3 Follow organisation guidelines in the handling of non-replaceable samples

3.4 Ensure sample labelling complies with organisation policies

3.5 Store and transport pathology samples in line with organisation policies and procedures and legal and regulatory guidelines

3.6 Perform specimens preparation or separation and storage according to test requirements

4. Document client information

4.1 Use accepted protocols to document information in line with organisation requirements

4.2 Use appropriate terminology to document identified problems related to application specimen testing

4.3 Ensure that confidentiality of client information is maintained.

5. Work within organisation policies and procedures

5.1 Access and follow organisation guidelines, policies and procedures

5.2 Follow organisation administrative practices and procedures

5.3 Access and follow legal and regulatory guidelines

5.4 Document relevant information in accordance with organisation policies and procedures.

Required Skills and Knowledge

This describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level required for this unit.

Essential knowledge:

The candidate must be able to demonstrate essential knowledge required to effectively do the task outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit, manage the task and manage contingencies in the context of the identified work role

This includes knowledge of:

  • Biohazard nature of specimens handled in the laboratory
  • Infection control requirements
  • Laboratory policy and procedure manual
  • Medical terminology
  • WHS requirements

Essential skills:

It is critical that the candidate demonstrate the ability to effectively do the task outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit, manage the task and manage contingencies in the context of the identified work role

This includes the ability to:

  • Comply with organisation policies and procedures including those of WHS and infection control, and current standards
  • Comply with relevant policies, protocols, guidelines and procedures of the organisation
  • Deal with conflict
  • Demonstrate understanding of work lists and their role in preparation of samples for testing
  • Effectively communicate with internal and external clients
  • Follow instructions
  • Handle hazardous chemicals
  • Take into account opportunities to address waste minimisation, environmental responsibility and sustainable practice issues
  • Use basic computer skills
  • Use numeracy skills ranging from the ability to complete basic arithmetic calculations, recording stock levels and statistical information
  • Use oral communication skills required to fulfil job roles in a safe manner and as specified by the organisation, including skills in:
  • asking questions
  • providing clear information
  • listening to and understanding workplace instructions
  • clarifying workplace instructions when necessary
  • use effective verbal and non verbal communication skills with a range of internal and external persons
  • literacy in English or a community language, depending on client group organisation requirements
  • Use problem solving skills required including an ability to use available resources
  • Use reading and writing skills required to fulfil job roles in a safe manner and as specified by the organisation at a level of skill that involves reading and documenting clinical information and understanding complex policy and procedure manuals
  • Use time management strategies to set priorities
  • Work with others within a team

Evidence Guide


The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the Performance Criteria, Required Skills and Knowledge, the Range Statement and the Assessment Guidelines for this Training Package.

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

  • The individual being assessed must provide evidence of specified essential knowledge as well as skills
  • Observation of workplace performance is essential for assessment of this unit
  • Consistency of performance should be demonstrated over the required range of situations relevant to the workplace
  • Where, for reasons of safety, space, or access to equipment and resources, assessment takes place away from the workplace, the assessment environment should represent workplace conditions as closely as possible

Context of and specific resources for assessment:

  • Equipment
  • Laboratory policy and procedure manual
  • Occupational health and safety requirements
  • Infection control manual

Method of assessment

  • Observation in the work place (if possible)
  • Written assignments/projects or questioning should be used to assess knowledge
  • Case study and scenario as a basis for discussion of issues and strategies to contribute to best practice.
  • Clinical skills involving direct client care are to be assessed initially in a simulated clinical setting (laboratory). If successful, a second assessment is to be conducted during workplace application under direct supervision.

Access and equity considerations:

  • All workers in the health industry should be aware of access and equity issues in relation to their own area of work
  • All workers should develop their ability to work in a culturally diverse environment
  • In recognition of particular health issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, workers should be aware of cultural, historical and current issues impacting on health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Assessors and trainers must take into account relevant access and equity issues, in particular relating to factors impacting on health of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clients and communities

Range Statement

The Range Statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Add any 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.

Modes of practice may include:

  • Specimen reception
  • Specimen set up
  • Sample identification and processing as per organisation requirements
  • Loading analysers

Current legislation may include

  • Relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory Acts and Regulations specific to Pathology
  • Other relevant Acts and regulations including:
  • Work health and safety (WHS)
  • Privacy
  • Discrimination
  • NATA and ISO accreditation

Workers within a pathology laboratory may include but is not limited to:

  • Pathologist
  • Scientist
  • Laboratory technician
  • Pathology assistant
  • Phlebotomist
  • Ancillary staff

Roles and responsibilities of pathology assistants may include

  • Specimen reception
  • Data entry
  • Specimen separation and storage
  • Sample Identification and confirmation
  • Labelling of aliquots
  • Preparing samples for processing
  • Loading analysers
  • Making stains
  • Staining slides
  • Cleaning instrumentation
  • Temperature monitoring

Specimens may include:

  • Blood
  • Cultures
  • Urine
  • Faeces
  • Swabs
  • Tissue samples
  • Sputum
  • Body fluids
  • CSF pleural aspirates
  • Slides
  • Environmental samples (including water, food etc)

Different sections within a pathology laboratory include:

  • Haematology
  • Transfusion (Blood Bank)
  • Serology / immunology
  • Chemical pathology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomical pathology / cytology
  • Cytogenetics
  • Molecular genetics

Specimens preparation includes:

  • Centrifugation
  • Aliquoting

Recommended safety precautions may include:

  • Wearing gown, gloves, recommended eye protection and mask (if indicated by protocol)
  • Wearing enclosed foot wear

Urgent samples may include

  • Samples received from emergency, ICU, CCU, SCN, oncology or as indicated by requesting Doctor or collection area.
  • Samples for tissue typing for organ transplantation
  • CSF
  • Blood gases,
  • Ammonia levels
  • Drug levels following an overdose
  • Lactates

Non-replaceable samples may include:

  • Histology samples and slides
  • Samples collected by invasive techniques (including CSF, aspirates)
  • Swabs
  • Specimens from a child under 2 years of age

Organisation policies and procedures may refer to::

  • Collection and documentation of client personal and clinical information
  • Confidentiality of client information
  • Preparation for specimen collection procedures
  • Performance of specimen collection procedures
  • Infection control
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Specimen preparation, labelling, storage and transport
  • Maintenance of specimen integrity
  • Documentation and recording keeping
  • Handling of waste
  • Cleaning and maintenance of equipment (centrifuges etc)
  • Monitoring temperatures of storage areas

Unit Sector(s)

Not Applicable

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