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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).

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Boilermakers(7234)

Boilermakers fabricate, assemble, erect, test, maintain and repair boilers, vessels, tanks, towers, heat exchangers, and other heavy-metal structures. They are employed in boiler fabrication, manufacturing, shipbuilding, construction, electric power generation and similar industrial establishments.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read brief summaries of toolbox safety meetings (i.e., daily meetings held with workers to discuss safety issues) to review the issues discussed. (1)
  • May read short notes from co-workers to coordinate work activities. (1)
  • Read directions on adhesive labels to obtain product information. (1)
  • Read company policies and procedures to respond appropriately to situations such as emergency evacuations. (2)
  • Read code books to identify job-specific procedural specifications and tolerances. (2)
  • Read collective agreements to locate information on terms and conditions of work. (2)
  • May read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to locate information about safe handling of a substance. The text may be a paragraph in length and use technical terminology. (2)
  • Read reference books (e.g., IPT's Metal Trades Handbook, IPT's Crane and Rigging Handbook) to review technical procedures, mathematical explanations, first aid instructions, and safety guidelines. They synthesize information from various parts of the books. (3)
  • Read technical training manuals to review terminology and procedures addressed in upgrading courses. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read toolbox meeting agendas to identify discussion items. (1)
  • Read tables showing the weights and sizes of steel bars to locate a specific bar size. (1)
  • Read bills of lading to verify that the information documented (e.g., part names, weights and quantities) reflects the match the materials delivered. (1)
  • May make scale drawings to identify the specific job to be performed. (1)
  • Reference equipment catalogues to locate part numbers or part names. (2)
  • Interpret American Welding Society standard welding symbols on blueprints to identify the recommended welding technique. (2)
  • Read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to obtain information about a hazardous product and its properties. (2)
  • Read assembly drawings to clean and repair heat exchangers. (2)
  • Interpret schematics to perform various tasks related to a specific project. (4)
  • Interpret blueprints to determine what tasks must be completed and to review material lists. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • May enter dates on a vacation scheduling form to book time off work. (1)
  • May write co-workers a brief notes to coordinate work activities. (1)
  • May keep personal logbooks to record daily activities, noting such information as hours worked, tasks completed, problems encountered, observations, and concerns. (1)
  • May write suggestions to provide input about how the company could improve its working environment or procedures. (2)
  • May write a production plan to sequence and schedule tasks. (2)
  • May complete a hazard or near-miss report form to record information about occurrences. This involves writing a paragraph or more and requires some analysis and integration of information. Since these documents could be used in a court of law, clarity, detail and accuracy are important. (3)
  • May complete industry health and safety report forms to record information about unsafe conditions. This involves writing a paragraph or more and requires some analysis of the situation or conditions being reported. Since these documents could be used to file a grievance, clarity, detail and accuracy are important. (3)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Schedule their daily activities to complete assigned tasks. (1)
  • May determine work team composition and related schedules if acting as a working foreperson to address project timelines and tasks. (1)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Total the weight/mass of materials to be hoisted by a crane to determine if the load weight/mass is allowable for the type of crane being used. (1)
  • Measure the wall thickness of tubing to calculate tube expansion for heat exchangers. (1)
  • Calculate the Working Load Limit for a variety of wire and fibre rope types using a formula to determine which size and type of rope to use when hoisting a load. (2)
  • Convert Imperial measurement to metric to fabricate or modify a part. (2)
  • Measure angles to cut tubing/pipe to specifications. (3)
  • Use a formula to calculate sufficient expansion during a tube expansion process (i.e., final inside diameter = inside diameter + clearance + a specific % of one wall thickness). (3)
  • Use geometry, such as bisecting angles and constructing a circle from chords, to lay out materials for pressure vessels. (4)
Data Analysis Math
  • Cross reference the measurements on blueprints with industry specifications to ensure that code requirements are met. (1)
  • Compare pressure gauge readings to stated norms to determine whether pressure adjustments must be made. (1)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate tube/pipe lengths to perform rough cuts. (1)
  • May estimate how many workers and hours will be required to complete a job to ensure daily task scheduling is accurate and timelines realistic. Forepersons have the authority to make scheduling and roster decisions. (2)
  • Estimate the material requirements for a job (e.g., number of sheets of steel, number of lengths of tube/pipe) to ensure that sufficient materials are on hand to complete tasks. (2)
  • Estimate loads to ensure safe rigging operations are being used. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Speak with colleagues and supervisors at daily health and safety toolbox meetings to discuss safety issues on the agenda. (1)
  • Interact with supervisors to receive task-specific directives. (1)
  • May contact a supplier by telephone to order a part. (1)
  • Interact with supervisors to discuss technical issues, safety concerns, timelines, and personnel matters so that concerns can be addressed and problems noted in the supervisor's logbook. (2)
  • May consult with draftspersons, quality control officers and/or engineers to discuss problems with blueprints such as code violations, technical challenges and design flaws. (2)
  • Interact with colleagues and supervisors at phase hazard analysis meetings to identify task-related risks and challenges. (2)
  • Explain procedures to co-workers to make tasks easier. (2)
  • May consult with union representatives to discuss contract issues or to present grievances. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Discover that the worksite has not been prepared after being asked to begin a job on a specific date. They determine what job tasks may be addressed in the interim to ensure that deadlines will be met. (1)
  • Deal with tight timelines imposed by job conditions. They assess the assigned task to determine a more feasible timeframe. They then share this information with supervisory staff who determine if additional personnel should be assigned or overtime shifts implemented. (2)
  • Work with blueprints (created by draftspersons or engineers) that may not accurately reflect the reality of a situation. They determine what changes are necessary and make recommendations to the foreperson for consideration by engineering staff. (2)
  • May not have the appropriate tools to complete a task effectively. They determine what tools are necessary and custom fabricate them (e.g., jigs, dog and wedge). (2)
  • Face potentially hazardous job conditions (e.g., fly ash, asbestos, arsenic) that require a specific response. Boilermakers assess the situation to determine what action should be taken and then implement the solution (e.g., choose appropriate safety equipment, isolate the area, call insulators to strip asbestos). (2)
  • Work in situations where many tradespeople are required to complete a job at a worksite that can only safely accommodate a limited number of tradespeople at any given time. They sequence tasks within their own team to complete the work on schedule. They also coordinate with other trades (e.g., electricians), considering such factors as safety and the optimal use of person hours across trades. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide at the phase hazard analysis stage whether a two-way radio is necessary for critical lifts or if hand signals can be used. (1)
  • May encounter workers who lack the skills to do a job safely and effectively. They decide whether to take the time required to explain how improvements could be made or to refer the situation to a supervisor. (1)
  • May encounter sub-standard work in a commercial setting or in the field. They decide whether to correct the problem, notify an authority or determine who is responsible and why the problem occurred. (2)
  • May identify an equipment error, such as a bracket attached unevenly which does not affect the functionality of the structure. They decide whether to repair it, considering such factors as deadlines and the potential reaction of the client. (2)
  • Decide whether to refuse a job that they consider potentially dangerous. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Boilermakers' job task planning and organizing responsibilities are dependent on their work setting (shop or construction). In some cases, boilermakers may be given a project to complete and a technical drawing to follow. They decide upon the production sequence and task allocations in conjunction with their supervisor. Time management is determined by the project timelines.

In other cases, boilermakers are given detailed instructions by their foreperson, which often include the daily production schedule and assigned tasks (although the former can be determined jointly at the pre-job planning meeting). The day-to-day organizational requirements of the job are very dependent upon the projects involved. In some situations, identical parts are being produced or identical tasks being performed, making each day repetitive and easy to plan. In other situations, different tasks are being performed or a variety of products being made or repaired which presents a number of planning challenges, including frequent interruptions. Sequencing, scheduling and coordinating are very important when several trades are involved in a project. Effective planning is especially important if the worksite cannot safely support several individuals working at the same time. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Any boilermaker can be called upon to serve as a working foreperson if there are six or less boilermakers in a crew. A working foreperson has additional planning responsibilities such as organizing the tasks of the crew as well as other tradespeople involved in the job. A working foreperson determines daily production schedules, sequences tasks, coordinates work schedules across trades, and ensures timelines are met. When working forepersons plan and organize others, they consider the number of workers the site can safely accommodate at any one time, optimal use of person hours for all trades involved, job deadlines, task sequencing, the skill mix of crew members, and numbers of workers assigned to the crew. Planning and organizing others is not a primary responsibility of the occupation, but the position of working foreperson is important when assumed. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember priorities and directives for the day (item, short term, several pieces of information).
  • Remember where they were in a task when they left off in terms of completing a task if they are called away to a higher priority situation. Often several hours can elapse before their return, resulting in a need to recall exactly what they were doing when they left (serial order, short term, several pieces of information).
  • Memorize parameters such as tolerances, and procedures such as the steps involved in acquiring permits (serial, short term, several pieces of information).
Finding Information
  • Obtain information on safe work practices from co-workers and supervisors during safety toolbox meetings. (1)
  • Locate information in a technical handbook regularly to review procedures, mathematical equations, specifications, symbols and equipment. (1)
  • Contact their supervisor to obtain information about procedures or technical problems. (1)
  • May refer to a catalogue to get a part number or the name of a piece of equipment. (1)
  • Consult peers to gain technical knowledge and assistance with problems. (1)
  • May refer to a collective agreement to verify pay rates and worker rights. (1)
  • Consult with quality control officers, engineers and/or draftspersons to get information about blueprints and design. (1)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • May use digitized programmable equipment such as scientific calculators, digital levels and lasers. (1)
  • May use application equipment (robotics) and computer-controlled equipment such as welding overlays. (1)
  • May use computer-assisted training tools such as on-line programs or software packages for health and safety training. (1)
  • May use computer-assisted design (CAD) software to modify drawings. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Boilermakers work with others at Complexity Level 4. Boilermakers are not allowed to work alone due to the potentially dangerous nature of their work; therefore, working with others is a critical skill. Often a welder is paired with a mechanic to form a skills team. Boilermakers may also work in larger team situations and with other tradespeople. They should be able to communicate effectively, complete the tasks assigned to them and integrate their work with that of the other trades. They must be self-disciplined, ensuring that work done independently is accurate and completed within prescribed time limits. It is advantageous if boilermakers demonstrate leadership abilities by helping the team to organize its work schedule and coordinate assignments. Boilermakers in an industrial/commercial setting must be able to get along with their co-workers because they will work closely with these individuals for years. Boilermakers are expected to respect their supervisors and to assist those workers with less experience and expertise. There are two types of forepersons in this occupation. The working foreperson (if there are six or less boilermakers) supervises the crew for the duration of the job and is also part of the working group. When there are more than six boilermakers, there is a designated foreperson. This person is in a defined position of authority and assumes more of a supervisory role, assigning tasks and responsibilities.

Continuous Learning

Technical upgrading is offered by companies when new products, procedures and equipment are introduced. The Trades Training Trust Fund provides comprehensive technical and theoretical training as well as refresher courses such as blueprint reading and basic trade math. The Fund also provides first aid and safety training (e.g., Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, H2S Alive, confined space). Boilermakers may take courses at community colleges (supervisory skills, computer skills, first aid) or access on-line programs. One of the most practical ways for boilermakers to gain new expertise is to learn on the job from more experienced co-workers or supervisors. It is common for boilermakers to also have welding certification. These skills are pursued through apprenticeship training.

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