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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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Machine Operators, Mineral and Metal Processing (9411)

Machine operators in mineral and metal processing operate single function machines or machinery, which are part of a larger production system to process mineral ore and metal products.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read logbook entries, e.g. read logbook entries to learn about activities on other shifts. (1)
  • Read instructions and warnings written on signs and labels, e.g. read labels on electrical panels to learn about electrical shock hazards. (1)
  • Read short text entries on a variety of forms, e.g. read comments on inspection forms to learn about equipment faults. (1)
  • Read notices and bulletins, e.g. read notices from supervisors to learn about upcoming meetings and changes to operating procedures. (2)
  • Read a variety of instructions and procedures, e.g. read procedures for locking out equipment and step-by-step instructions for monitoring process-control systems. (2)
  • Read workplace safety materials, e.g. read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to understand the chemical composition of solvents and their possible hazards. (2)
  • May read a variety of manuals, e.g. read manuals to learn how to operate equipment, such as grinding mills, and troubleshoot their faults. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Observe symbols, icons and signs, e.g. scan Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) icons to locate the hazardous properties of chemicals, such as acids. (1)
  • Scan labels and tags on equipment and panels to locate specifications, voltages, safety information and identification numbers. (1)
  • Locate data, such as energy readings, speeds, pressures, settings and error codes, on gauges and digital displays. (1)
  • Complete a variety of forms, e.g. enter data, such as dates, times and concentration levels, into hazard assessment and system monitoring forms. (2)
  • Locate data in tables, e.g. locate data, such as pot numbers, voltages, concentrations, flows and temperatures, in specification tables. (2)
  • May study assembly drawings, e.g. study assembly drawings to learn how to disassemble and assemble equipment. (2)
  • May study process-control diagrams, e.g. scan production graphs generated by process-control systems to locate data, such as capacities, flows, concentrations and temperatures. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write reminders and short notes, e.g. write short notes to co-workers to inform them of notable events, such as equipment failures. (1)
  • Write comments in forms, e.g. write comments in non-conformity reports to explain why production targets were missed. (2)
  • Write short reports to describe events leading up to incidents or accidents, e.g. write about injuries and events when completing workers' compensation board forms. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy
  • Measure dimensions and angles using basic measuring tools, such as tape measures and angle gauges. (1)
  • Compare measurements of speeds, flows, temperature, angles, dimensions and clearances to specifications. (1)
  • May estimate the depth of molten metal in a cruse. (1)
  • May measure out quantities and weigh chemical compounds, e.g. measure out quantities of chemicals before transferring them to tanks. (2)
  • May calculate summary measures, e.g. calculate efficiency levels by averaging production over set periods of time. (2)
  • May estimate the speed of conveyors in order to calculate the time it will take to fill containers. (2)
  • May analyze data sets to establish optimal equipment settings, e.g. use production and quality control statistics to determine equipment's optimal speeds and rates of production. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Listen to announcements over two-way radios. (1)
  • Exchange information with co-workers, e.g. talk with co-workers about the performance of equipment and with supervisors to coordinate activities and schedules. (2)
  • Participate in group discussions, e.g. participate in toolbox meetings to discuss safe work practices and the outcomes of job hazard assessments. (2)
  • Exchange technical repair and troubleshooting information with co-workers and equipment repairers, e.g. describe the operating condition of malfunctioning equipment to repairers, such as industrial electricians. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking
  • Encounter material shortages. They inform supervisors of the shortages and perform other work until the necessary supplies arrive. (1)
  • Decide order of tasks and their priorities, e.g. decide which equipment maintenance activities to complete first. (1)
  • Judge the accuracy of readings taken using equipment, such as pH testers. They compare readings taken with other types of equipment. (1)
  • Receive instructions from forepersons and then plan their own priorities to complete tasks. They co-ordinate their activities with co-workers to maximize efficiency. While many tasks are routine, there can be emergencies that require immediate attention, such as the malfunction of cells. (1)
  • Learn about the activities that took place on other shifts by reading logbook entries and speaking with co-workers. (1)
  • Encounter unsafe work conditions. They look for ways to perform their tasks safely. They refuse tasks that cannot be completed safely. (2)
  • Encounter delays due to equipment malfunctions. They inform co-workers and equipment repairers about the malfunctions. They help troubleshoot the causes of the malfunctions and assist with repairs where possible. (2)
  • Experience product defects. They consult with supervisors and quality assurance personnel to determine next steps, adjust equipment settings and complete product defect reports. (2)
  • Decide to scrap production that does not meet specifications. (2)
  • Decide upon process-control changes needed to ensure that plant systems and equipment are operating within prescribed limits. (2)
  • Evaluate the safety of work sites. They consider the hazards presented by chemicals, equipment, confined spaces and working at heights. (2)
  • Evaluate the performance of equipment, such as conveyor belts and grinding mills. They consider multiple test results and signs of malfunctions, such as excessive vibrations, unusual noises and odours. (2)
  • Find information on the operation and maintenance of equipment by reading logbook entries, instruction manuals and by speaking with co-workers, suppliers and repairers. (2)
  • Learn about worksite hazards by reviewing jobsite hazard assessment forms, conducting safety inspections and speaking with co-workers. (2)
  • May decide to shut down equipment or sections of the plant that are malfunctioning. They consider the severity of the malfunction and the impact of shutdowns. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • May use spreadsheet software to track inventory and supplies used. (1)
  • May use computerized maintenance management systems to retrieve maintenance schedules. (1)
  • May use databases to access and complete forms. (1)
  • Use specialized software to monitor and operate computerized process-control systems. (1)
  • May use statistical analysis software to generate graphs and charts that present production outputs. (1)
  • May use hand-held electronic devices like volt meters to locate operational data, such as electrical readings. (1)
  • May use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as calculating material requirements. (1)
  • May use spreadsheets to monitor readings at different points within mining processes. (2)
  • May use communication software to exchange email with co-workers. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by training institutions, unions, suppliers, associations and employers. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Working with Others

Machine operators in mineral and metal processing mainly work independently, co-ordinating their tasks as needed with co-workers. They work with a partner to carry out tasks, such as tapping, which requires the help of a crane operator. Workers are often divided into work crews, working as members of a team to achieve objectives.

Continuous Learning

Machine operators in mineral and metal processing continue to learn, primarily on the job. They participate in on-site training to learn about new machinery or new processes being introduced. They take safety training, such as first aid and emergency evacuation procedures.

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