Labour market information Explore careers by essential skills

Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

You can use this profile to:
Find a job
Write your resume and prepare for job interviews
Plan your career
Determine which career may best suit you based on your skill set
Manage your workforce
Write job postings, assess employee performance and develop training

Insulators (Heat and Frost)(7293)

Insulators (Heat and Frost) apply insulation materials to plumbing, air-handling, heating, cooling and refrigeration systems, piping equipment and pressure vessels, and walls, floors and ceilings of buildings and other structures, to prevent or reduce the passage of heat, cold, sound or fire. They are employed by construction companies and insulation contractors, or they may be self-employed.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read brief notices about changes in safety procedures and regulations. (1)
  • Read safe work permits as required in order to understand the type of work being performed. (2)
  • Read job specifications in order to complete work assignments. (2)
  • May occasionally read magazines such as Insulation Outlook or The Trowel in order to keep up with new processes, materials, and equipment. (2)
  • Read company policies and procedures as required for personnel matters such as pension plans and sick days. (3)
  • Read member information and newsletters distributed through unions where applicable on a monthly basis. (3)
  • Read safety regulations (e.g. Workers' Compensation) and emergency procedures (e.g. lockout procedures) as required. (3)
  • Read WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) sheets and labels on new and unfamiliar products as required in order to understand and apply the correct safety measures, such as wearing a respirator, and to know how to clean up potential spills. Some information requires checking safety regulations for specific details. For example, safety information may recommend wearing a respirator; however, a secondary search is required to determine the type needed. (3)
  • Read multiple choice exam questions and word problems which often contain jargon and complicated clauses and may contain extraneous information and require the ability to synthesize information from a variety of sources including past experience, classroom handouts and notes, safety regulations, etc. (3)
  • Read manuals and handouts which explain procedures and processes, such as, types of adhesives, contact cements and lagging adhesives, using general background and scientific knowledge (e.g. K factor) and jargon. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read and write lists of required materials including pipe sizes on a daily basis in order to remember and to help plan and organize materials. (1)
  • Read safety signs including WHMIS on a daily basis. For instance, lockout procedures require a sign posted as do confined spaces and asbestos removal sites. (1)
  • Read dispatch sheets as needed to locate the company's name and address and foreman's name. (1)
  • Read short memos listing instructions and changes in safety regulations weekly. (1)
  • Read labels on new and unfamiliar materials as needed to learn names, instructions on use of the product and safety precautions. (2)
  • Complete a monthly report as an apprentice detailing hours worked, company information and types of work. (2)
  • Read and interpret drafting and piping symbols during technical training and on-the-job to determine specifications. (2)
  • Read work orders to determine types, sizes and amounts of materials requiring the use of jargon, abbreviations and technical vocabulary. (2)
  • Read blueprints detailing job specifications and what type of material to use during technical training and on-the-job, requiring knowledge of technical vocabulary. They may also be required to use multiple sources of information. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write lists of instructions and materials which include pipe sizes, circumferences, insulation thicknesses, mitre sizes and band sizes, daily. (1)
  • Apprentices write weekly reports detailing hours worked and type of work done. (1)
  • May keep daily diary/journal detailing hours of work, names of projects, companies worked for, and unusual occurrences or problems. (2)
  • Complete accident reports as required detailing dates, names, and a detailed description of the accident or incident. (2)
  • Take notes from overheads and blackboard on a daily basis to use for future reference and to prepare for exams during technical training. (3)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure pipes and add thickness of insulation. (1)
  • Cut insulation to requested regular and irregular shapes and measurements. (3)
  • Use formulae for area and perimeter to calculate required materials for both regular and irregular shapes. (3)
  • Calculate surface area of frustums, cones and other shapes. (4)
  • Use geometry, trigonometry and triangulation to draw patterns. (4)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the amount of material required to complete a task to allow for miscalculation. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Meet with workers from other subtrades to ask if they're finished in a work area so they can begin working, or to move materials that are in the way. (1)
  • Talk with dispatcher as applicable to find out where the next job is, how long the job will last, the name and address of the company, and the name of the foreman. (1)
  • Meet with journeypersons, apprentices and foreman daily to receive instructions and updates as well to pass on information about how things are going using technical language and jargon. Instructions must be understood and acted upon without wasting time and materials. (2)
  • Meet weekly with coworkers and foreman for "toolbox" meetings to discuss safety issues. (2)
  • Settle conflicts with workers from other trades which involve arguments over who is responsible for what or who is responsible for making a mistake, for example, a pipe which is too large for the space which means there isn't enough space for the insulation. The responsible party will assume the cost of solving the problem. (3)
  • During yearly technical training apprentices discuss technical information and ways to approach practical problems with classmates and the trades instructor. Apprentices are expected to ask questions and participate in class discussions. (3)
  • Meet with business managers and agents, and union stewards, where applicable, to discuss union-related information and any problems experienced on the job. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Troubleshoot power tool malfunctions. (2)
  • Need to be able to anticipate problems and "think on their feet" in situations such as materials not arriving as scheduled, unplanned shortages, or the wrong materials being delivered. Each situation requires follow up and checking for alternatives. (2)
  • Figure out where to make cuts so the material can be formed to the required shape. Every job is a bit different plus plans may have had to be changed because of alterations to the original specifications. Shapes can be irregular and installation can be awkward. (3)
  • Figure out how to get bundled materials 100 feet into the air when the only access is a vertical metal ladder. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide what to do when tools break down (e.g. attempt to fix it or send it for repairs and use something else so work isn't halted or slowed down). (2)
  • Decide how to cut materials accurately with little waste. (2)
  • Decide when to pass on information so the foreman or other person in authority can make the decision. (3)
  • Decide what to do when plumbers and/or sheet metal workers have installed pipe but not left enough room for the correct insulation to be installed. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Insulators (Heat and Frost) plan and organize their job tasks to maximize production. They know "time is money" and that if they don't keep up they will lose their jobs. Heat and Frost Insulators assemble materials in the order needed for the job so time isn't wasted looking for the right tool or piece of material. Tasks include anticipating and planning ahead, usually one day at a time, what tools and materials are required; getting the right materials to the right journeyperson or site at the right time; and storing materials so they are easily reached, but not in the way or left out where they can get wet; learning where materials are, how materials are organized and the quickest way from point A to point B on a new job site. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember pipe sizes.
  • Remember safety regulations, WHMIS information.
  • Remember lists of instructions and tasks daily until completed.
  • Remember skills learned during technical training.
  • Remember method used to solve a problem in the past and applying that method to similar problems.
Finding Information
  • Ask co-workers, foremen and other workers for help. (1)
  • Check manuals for information. (1)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • During technical training apprentices use a software program to design duct work. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Insulators (Heat and Frost) work independently, co-ordinating their work with other workers on-site including apprentices, journeypersons, foremen, supervisors and workers from other trades depending on the size of the work site and the type of work.

Continuous Learning

There is an ongoing requirement to learn while working as an Insulator (Heat and Frost). Things are done differently on different work sites by different companies. Applications, materials and processes are continually changing and skills need to be kept up-to-date. Insulators (Heat and Frost) can update tickets and train for new ones through the union, if applicable, and through other agencies. Incumbents interviewed felt keeping up-to-date with what was happening within the trade was essential to doing well.

Date modified: