Skills Cable Skidder Operator near Port Hawkesbury (NS)

Find out what skills you typically need to work as a cable skidder operator in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Chain saw and skidder operators (NOC 8421).


People working in this occupation usually apply the following skill set.

  • Operate chainsaw to fell, delimb and buck trees
  • Operate cable or grapple skidder to move or yard felled trees
  • Maintain and perform minor repairs on skidders, chain saws and other equipment

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation. This section will be updated soon.

  • Read telephone messages. (1)
  • Read bulletins which include specifications for cutting trees, such as the required length and quality of logs and defects to be eliminated. (2)
  • May read newsletters or memos from their employer. (2)
  • Read the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related safety information. (3)
  • Read operating and maintenance manuals for machinery. (3)
  • Read environmental regulations or forest management plans. (3)
  • May read training manuals. (3)
Document use
  • Read lists of emergency telephone numbers and numbers for supervisors and other operators. (1)
  • Read mill sales slips when the mill receives the wood shipments. (1)
  • Take note of marks which indicate a tree contains protected wildlife. (1)
  • Read labels on equipment, parts and fuel containers, including Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labels. (2)
  • Read forestry maps to determine the cutting area and to locate notable features such as streams, drainage or bridges. (2)
  • Read charts in manuals which indicate the preferred angles for cutting trees. (2)
  • Read (weigh) scale sheets which indicate how many trees and how many cubic metres of wood were skidded by each operator. (2)
  • Refer to the Falling and Bucking Card which charts the cutting specifications for various species of trees. (2)
  • Complete work stoppage reports which indicate the reason for the stop and the duration. (2)
  • Write a weekly report indicating the number of trees cut and their weight, the number of kilometres travelled and the number of hours worked. (2)
  • Fill in expense forms for repairs and maintenance. (2)
  • Consult drawings of machinery to troubleshoot problems. (3)
  • May complete incident reports, injury claim forms and safety report forms. (3)
  • Write notes to themselves as reminders of what parts or supplies to pick up. (1)
  • Keep a daily diary with entries about such things as hours worked and weather conditions. (1)
  • May write notes to operators on the next shift describing problems encountered. (1)
  • Keep a record and description of any trees cut outside of the boundary. (1)
  • Document any Culturally Modified Trees (CMT), for instance, those with native bark stripping, by recording date and location. (1)
  • May write incident or safety reports. (2)
NumeracyMoney Math
  • May calculate how much money is owed to particular suppliers by adding items. (1)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Keep a running tally of expenses for repairs and maintenance. (1)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure the length, diameter and circumference of logs. (1)
  • Prepare fuel for the chainsaw using an appropriate mix of gasoline and chainsaw oil, usually a ratio of 20 parts gasoline to one part chainsaw oil. (2)
  • Calculate the length that logs should be bucked, using a Falling and Bucking Card. The card specifies the preferred length for logs of various diameters according to species. They calculate what combination of lengths of logs to buck a tree into to maximize the value that can be extracted from the tree. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the diameter of a tree trunk in order to avoid cutting a tree that is too small. (1)
  • Estimate the volume of wood cut. (2)
  • Estimate the height of a tree and the angle at which it should be cut to fall properly. They judge by eye and experience. Errors could result in the tree falling on another tree, damage to the tree and foliage below, damage to equipment or injury to personnel. (3)
Oral communication
  • Receive directions from foremen or supervisors. (1)
  • May answer questions from members of the public visiting the work site. (1)
  • Deal with suppliers to order parts. (1)
  • Keep in touch with co-workers by two-way radio to know their location. (1)
  • Warn others in the vicinity that a tree is about to be felled. (1)
  • Interact with co-workers to share information on different cutting techniques or ask for help with a broken machine. (2)
  • Advise mechanics of problems with machinery. (2)
  • Discuss division of duties, problems and decisions with team members. (2)
  • Make suggestions to suppliers for improving the design of parts. (2)
  • Speak with forestry officials to discuss concerns regarding government regulations. (2)
ThinkingProblem Solving
  • May find that machines malfunction in cold weather. They may ask a mechanic to come to the site to get the machines running. (1)
  • May get lost trying to reach the worksite when there are no marked distinguishing features in the woods. They use their maps and look for signs of other workers having passed that way. (2)
  • May have difficulty reaching the worksite because of overgrown paths or uneven ground. They must be careful and patient, moving slowly and making sure the skidder does not capsize when it hits rocks or high stumps. (2)
  • May have to work in bad weather which makes the ground and wood slippery. They must be careful and take the appropriate preventative measures. (2)
  • May have to deal with frightened or aggressive animals. (2)
  • May have to cut a tree which is not well situated for felling. Operators must find the best way to work on steep ground or on terrain which is crowded with protected trees. (3)
Decision Making
  • At the beginning of the day, decide which tools to use depending on tree type and height. (1)
  • Decide the best approach and direction to fell trees so they can easily be skidded to the pile. (2)
  • Decide which route is best to transport trees out of the bush. If the wrong route is chosen, trees may get stuck or roll over, resulting in a loss of production or an accident. (2)
  • Decide when the weather is bad enough to stop work. (2)
  • Decide which trees to cut and which to leave according to regulations and instructions from foremen, and which trees to harvest first. (2)
  • Decide how to "buck" (trim to specifications) logs to maximize the value and meet length and recovery specifications, using a Falling and Bucking Card. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Chainsaw and skidder operators plan how to begin a new cutting area to log it in the most efficient way, by observing the area, the lay of the land, identifying possible hazards, and determining the best skid route. They may be assigned to work in a particular section of the forest. The workers must co-ordinate their work with a partner, as well as organize equipment, tools, vehicles and supplies for the job. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the location of ribbons that indicate danger or a boundary.
  • Remember emergency phone numbers.
  • Remember how to recognize culturally modified trees or wildlife trees that are to be protected.
  • Remember which trees are which grade and which mills want certain cuts of trees.
Finding Information
  • Contact foremen or logging company personnel to clarify cutting requirements. (1)
  • Look up mechanical problems in the operators' manual. (2)
  • May consult the Workers' Compensation Board Regulations to identify unsafe working conditions. (2)
Digital technology

This occupation does not use computers.

Additional informationOther Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Chainsaw and skidder operators typically work alone in their assigned area after receiving instructions from their supervisor or foreman. They must co-ordinate their work with the rest of the crew. Some may work with a partner, who stays within hearing distance for safety.

Continuous Learning

Chainsaw and skidder operators should be familiar with new forest management agreements which outline changes related to environmental concerns. They may be required to take courses in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and forest survival. Chainsaw and skidder operators are continuously learning more efficient ways to perform their tasks.

Labour Market Information Survey
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