Unit of competency details

PMAOPS234 - Monitor and operate low pressure compressors (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Supersedes and is equivalent to PMAOPS234A - Monitor and operate low pressure compressorsSupersedes and is equivalent to PMAOPS234A Monitor and operate low pressure compressors 01/Jun/2016

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 02/Jun/2016


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 030717 Plant And Machine Operations  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 030717 Plant And Machine Operations  14/Oct/2016 
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Unit Of competency

Modification History

Release 1. Supersedes and is equivalent to PMAOPS234A Monitor and operate low pressure compressors


This unit of competency covers the skills and knowledge required to operate low pressure compressors.

The compressor may be technically sophisticated and/or have sophisticated controls built in, but its operation is relatively simple. It may have essential ancillary equipment but the operation of this ancillary equipment is largely integrated with the normal operation of the compressor unit itself.

The compressors will typically be used to provide suction or a moderately low pressure only. One example is the operation of a low pressure, low volume screw compressor in a coal seam gas (CSG) gathering system.

This unit of competency applies to operators who are required to start up and shut down the equipment, complete routine checks, monitor its performance and make adjustments, identify problems and take appropriate action, and maintain records.

This unit of competency applies to an individual who may work alone although under routine direction and supervision. They may work as part of a team or group and will work in liaison with other shift team members and the control room operator, as appropriate.

No licensing, legislative or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

Pre-requisite Unit


Competency Field


Unit Sector

Elements and Performance Criteria

Elements describe the essential outcomes.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element.


Prepare for work 


Receive and give shift handover


Identify work requirements


Identify and control hazards


Coordinate with appropriate personnel


Check for recent work undertaken on compressor and ancillary equipment


Note any outstanding/incomplete work


Check operational status of compressor and ancillary equipment


Operate compressor in accordance with procedures 


Identify type of compressor and its duty


Complete routine checks, reads and logs


Make adjustments required


Identify problems and take action


Complete logs and reports


Recognise and take appropriate action on abnormal situations 


Monitor compressor frequently and critically throughout shift using measured/indicated data and senses


Identify impacts of any changes upstream and downstream


Recognise situations which may require action


Resolve routine problems


Take actions on other abnormal situations to make safe and have the situation resolved


Isolate and de-isolate compressor 


Complete any required pre-start checks


Start up and shut down compressor according to compressor type and duty in liaison with other personnel


Isolate compressor


Make safe as required


Check compressor and ancillary equipment are ready to be returned to service


De-isolate and prepare plant for return to service

Foundation Skills

This section describes those language, literacy, numeracy and employment skills that are essential to performance.

Foundation skills essential to performance are explicit in the performance criteria of this unit of competency.

Range of Conditions

This field allows for different work environments and conditions that may affect performance. Essential operating conditions that may be present (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) are included.

Regulatory framework  

The latest version of all legislation, regulations, industry codes of practice and Australian/international standards, or the version specified by the local regulatory authority, must be used, and include one or more of the following:

  • legislative requirements, including work health and safety (WHS)
  • industry codes of practice and guidelines
  • environmental regulations and guidelines
  • Australian and other standards
  • licence and certification requirements

All operations to which this unit applies are subject to stringent health, safety and environment (HSE) requirements, which may be imposed through state/territory or federal legislation, and these must not be compromised at any time. Where there is an apparent conflict between performance criteria and HSE requirements, the HSE requirements take precedence.


All operations must be performed in accordance with relevant procedures.

Procedures are written, verbal, visual, computer-based or in some other form, and include one or more of the following:

  • emergency procedures
  • work instructions
  • standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • safe work method statements (SWMS)
  • formulas/recipes
  • batch sheets
  • temporary instructions
  • any similar instructions provided for the smooth running of the plant


Hazards include one or more of the following:

  • electricity
  • gas
  • gases and liquids under pressure
  • structural hazards
  • structural collapse
  • equipment failures
  • industrial (machinery, equipment and product)
  • equipment or product mass
  • noise, rotational equipment or vibration
  • plant services (steam, condensate and cooling water)
  • limited head spaces or overhangs
  • working at heights, in restricted or confined spaces, or in environments subjected to heat, dusts or vapours
  • flammability and explosivity
  • hazardous products and materials
  • unauthorised personnel
  • sharp edges, protrusions or obstructions
  • slippery surfaces, spills or leaks
  • extreme weather
  • other hazards that might arise

Routine problems 

Routine problems must be resolved by applying known solutions.

Routine problems are predictable and include one or more of the following:

  • leakage
  • vibration
  • loss of control of pressure and/or flow
  • blockages
  • equipment failure
  • lack of water removal from gas
  • high differential pressure on lube oil filters

Known solutions are drawn from one or more of the following:

  • procedures
  • training
  • remembered experience

Non-routine problems must be reported according to according to relevant procedures.

Routine check reads and logs 

Routine check reads and logs include, as appropriate to the plant, one or more of the following:

  • lubricating oil levels
  • temperatures (inlet and outlet)
  • pressures (inlet and outlet)
  • speed

Identified faults 

Identified faults include one or more of the following:

  • instrumentation failure/malfunction
  • electrical failure/malfunction
  • mechanical failure/malfunction
  • control system failure/malfunction
  • mismatch between flow rates and system requirements
  • wear, tear and corrosion of plant and equipment

Action on abnormal situations 

Action on abnormal situations includes the following:

  • determining problems needing action
  • determining possible fault causes
  • rectifying problem using appropriate solution within area of responsibility
  • following through items initiated until final resolution has occurred
  • reporting problems outside area of responsibility to designated person

In this unit problem solving is restricted to routine problems only.


Operate is to monitor, adjust/change the plant item/unit/system to meet specifications, by one or more of the following:

  • manually in the plant
  • using local controller in the plant
  • using the process control system in the control room

Start up/shut down as required 

Start up/shut down as required includes the following:

  • start up and shut down to/from normal operating conditions
  • start up and shut down to/from isolated, cold or empty
  • start up and shut down to/from other conditions/situations experienced on the plant

Unit Mapping Information

Release 1. Supersedes and is equivalent to PMAOPS234A Monitor and operate low pressure compressors


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=9fc2cf53-e570-4e9f-ad6a-b228ffdb6875


Assessment requirements

Modification History

Release 1. Supersedes and is equivalent to PMAOPS234A Monitor and operate low pressure compressors

Performance Evidence

Evidence required to demonstrate competence in this unit must be relevant to and satisfy the requirements of the elements and performance criteria, and include the ability to:

  • undertake checks, reads and logs according to procedures
  • recognise early warning signs of equipment/processes needing attention or with potential problems
  • take action to ensure a timely return to full performance
  • convey information relevant to the operation clearly and effectively
  • isolate and de-isolate equipment
  • identify hazards and apply hazard control procedures.

Knowledge Evidence

Evidence must be provided that demonstrates knowledge of:

  • compressor/pumping principles
  • physics relevant to the processes used, and gas flow principles
  • typical issues causing problems
  • process parameters and limits (e.g. temperature, pressure and flow)
  • relevant alarms and actions
  • protective systems
  • control systems
  • hierarchy of control
  • hazards that may arise in the job/work environment, and:
  • their possible causes
  • potential consequences
  • appropriate risk controls.

Assessment Conditions

  • The unit should be assessed holistically and the judgement of competence based on a holistic assessment of the evidence.
  • The collection of performance evidence:
  • should occur over a range of situations which include typical disruptions to normal, smooth operation of an operating plant
  • will typically include a supervisor/third-party report or other evidence, focusing on consistent performance and problem recognition and solving. A supervisor/third-party report must be prepared by someone who has a direct, relevant, current relationship with the person being assessed and who is in a position to form a judgement on workplace performance relevant to the unit of competency
  • must include the use of an appropriate industrial item of equipment requiring demonstration of operation, start-up and shutdown procedures and responding to problems
  • may use industry-based simulation for part only of the unit where safety, lack of opportunity or significant cost is an issue.
  • Assessment should occur in operational workplace situations. Where this is not possible, or where personal safety or environmental damage are limiting factors, assessment must occur in a sufficiently rigorous simulated environment reflecting realistic operational workplace conditions. This must cover all aspects of workplace performance, including environment, task skills, task management skills, contingency management skills and job role environment skills.
  • Assessment in a simulated environment should use evidence collected from one or more of:
  • walk-throughs
  • pilot plant operation
  • demonstration of skills
  • industry-based case studies/scenarios
  • ‘what ifs’.
  • Knowledge evidence may be collected concurrently with performance evidence (provided a record is kept) or through an independent process, such as workbooks, written assessments or interviews (provided a record is kept).
  • Assessment processes and techniques must be appropriate to the language, literacy and numeracy requirements of the work being performed and the needs of the candidate.
  • Conditions for assessment must include access to all tools, equipment, materials and documentation required, including relevant workplace procedures, product and manufacturing specifications associated with this unit.
  • The regulatory framework will be reflected in workplace policies and procedures and is not required to be independently assessed.
  • Foundation skills are integral to competent performance of the unit and should not be assessed separately.
  • Assessors must satisfy the assessor competency requirements that are in place at the time of the assessment as set by the VET regulator.
  • In addition, the assessor or anyone acting in subject matter expert role in assessment must demonstrate both technical competency and currency. If the assessor cannot demonstrate technical competency and currency they must assess with a subject matter expert who does meet these requirements.
  • Technical competence can be demonstrated through one or more of:
  • relevant VET or other qualification/Statement of Attainment
  • appropriate workplace experience undertaking the type of work being assessed under routine and non-routine conditions
  • appropriate workplace experience supervising/evaluating the type of work being assessed under routine and non-routine conditions
  • Currency can be demonstrated through one or more of:
  • being currently employed undertaking the type of work being assessed
  • being employed by the organisation undertaking the type of work being assessed and having maintained currency in accordance with that organisation’s policies and procedures
  • having consulted/had contact with an organisation undertaking the type of work being assessed within the last twelve months, the consultation/contact being related to assessment
  • conducting on-the-job training/assessments of the type of work being assessed
  • being an active member of a relevant professional body and participating in activities relevant to the assessment of this type of work.


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=9fc2cf53-e570-4e9f-ad6a-b228ffdb6875