Becoming a Mechanical Technician at OPG
Dear Applicant. Thank you for your interest in applying to the Mechanical Technician position. Applying for and starting a new job can present unique challenges. At Ontario Power Generation (OPG) we would like to help smooth this transition. It is important for us at OPG to provide you with a complete description of what you can expect to experience as a Mechanical Technician. To do this, we have developed a document called the Realistic Job Preview
(RJP). In this RJP, you will find up-to-date job information that pertains to all aspects
of the Mechanical Technician job including information about the positive and negative
aspects (i.e., the rewards and challenges) of the job. Our goals in providing you with this
RJP are the following:
- Achieving a better fit between you and the job – You can review information
in this document to determine whether you are willing and able to cope with the
job’s demands and whether you will find this job satisfying. We hope that the
information in this document will help you make an informed decision about
whether this job is for you.
- Providing you with realistic expectations of the job – Our hope is that
information about the job will help you form accurate expectations of the job.
We hope that such an understanding will foster a mutually satisfying working
If you have had previous exposure to OPG or to other Mechanical Technicians, you may already have some knowledge about the job. However, we still require all applicants to read this document carefully, in its entirety before applying for the Mechanical Technician position.
Contents of this Realistic Job Preview
All information contained in this document is based on a detailed analysis of the job and has
been collected directly from individuals who are currently working as E & C Technicians.
This RJP includes the following:
- OVERVIEW OF THE HIRING PROCESS – describes the eligibility criteria and the steps of the selection process.
- LIFE AS A NEW MECHANICAL TECHNICIAN – describes information important to being a new Mechanical Technician.
- OVERVIEW OF THE JOB – provides a description of duties, amount of work, work schedules, and level of responsibility.
- TRAINING AND CAREER OPPORTUNITIES – provides an overview of the training requirements and professional opportunities available within OPG for Mechanical Technicians.
- PAY AND BENEFITS – describes monetary and non-monetary incentives.
- SUPERVISION – provides a description of the type of supervision to be expected on the job.
- PHYSICAL WORKING ENVIRONMENT – describes the physical environment within which a Mechanical Technician has to work.
- CRITITCAL SUCCESS FACTORS – provides a list of those factors critical for success and satisfaction as a Mechanical Technician.
- OPG CONTACT INFORMATION
Overview of the Hiring Process
“What can I expect when applying for the job?”
STEP 1: Vacancy is advertised. All applicants must submit an application online.
STEP 2: All applicants will be reviewed to determine if they meet the following criteria. To be considered, you will need one of the following:
- A Grade 12 Ontario Secondary School Diploma (or equivalent), plus completion of a minimum 2 year recognized community college
program in Industrial Mechanic Millwright, plus a minimum of 3 years experience in a related field.
- A Grade 12 Ontario Secondary School Diploma (or equivalent), plus completion of a Certificate of Qualification in Industrial Mechanic
Millwright, Tool & Die Maker, Machinist, Steamfitter, Welder, Mould Maker, or Boiler Maker.
- Applicants must be eligible to work in Canada.
STEP 3: Testing
- Qualified applicants may be invited to a testing session (3-4 hours long), where they will write a series of paper and pencil tests assessing
areas such as diagnosis and problem solving skills in a mechanical context, English and technical language comprehension skills, and
- Should you wish to practice some ability tests, please visit the SHLwebsite at http://www.shldirect.com/practice_tests.html
- Candidates need to pass these tests in accordance with the minimum criteria required for the job.
STEP 4: Interview – Those candidates who are successful at the testing phase
- The interview will consist of a series of job-related, structured questions. With structured questions, all candidates are asked the same questions and evaluated against the same job-related criteria as other candidates.
- The questions are behavior-based – candidates are asked to provide examples of how they have dealt with various job-related scenarios in
the past to demonstrate that they have the relevant experience.
- The interview will be approximately 2 hours in length. Time will be allotted at the end of the interview for applicants to ask questions
related to the Mechanical Technician job, particularly to questions related to the material discussed in this RJP.
STEP 5: Short-listed candidates will be notified of any further selection requirements such as the following:
- Security checks: Applicants must successfully pass a security clearance check.
- Medical requirements: Applicants must complete a medical information questionnaire and have an examination completed by a personal physician.
- Reference checks: Applicants’ references will be checked.
Life as a new Mechanical Technician
“What happens when I first start working at OPG?”
TRAINING FOR NEW JOB INCUMBENTS
Training is an integral and on-going part of the OPG culture. OPG’s commitment to training is apparent in the fact that OPG provides new employees with extensive training at the outset of their jobs. All tools, equipment, and training are provided by OPG as part of the job. As well, personnel are continually scheduled for training throughout their employment at OPG.
When new job incumbents begin working at OPG, they must complete a training program, consisting of a series of general and trade-specific courses, prior to being deemed qualified to work on certain tasks as a Mechanical Technician. This training is mandatory even for those with extensive prior training, certification, and/or experience. Training courses themselves, last full days (i.e., 8 hours per day).
New employees begin by receiving orientation, safety, and science fundamentals training. This training lasts for one month.
- General training consists of in-class training that is non-trade specific. Specifically, training is received in science fundamentals (e.g., training in thermal dynamics, chemistry, CANDU reactors), safety (e.g., radiation protection, work protection, general safety when working with thermal and nuclear materials, WHMIS, and training on OPG’s Corporate Safety Rules). Such training qualifies workers to understand basic nuclear facility systems, station operations, etc.
INITIAL CORE SKILLS TRAINING (TRADE SPECIFIC)
Training is also provided in trade-specific areas of mechanical maintenance. This core training is conducted in two blocks. The first block of training consists of initial core skills training.
- In-class training: Trainees are provided with basic training in a broad array of areas (e.g., machining, pipe fitting, pumps and motors, valves). As such, to be successful at training, candidates should be comfortable learning a broad scope of material. This training is typically in-class and lasts approximately two and a half months.
- On-the-job training: In-class training is followed by “on the job” (OJT) training. Trainees are assigned to work at the station where they receive an opportunity to practice their mechanical skills. Such training allows employees to develop their skills, to acquaint themselves with station equipment, and to understand the station layout and work processes. OJT lasts approximately 1 year.
- Crew assignments: Through the course of initial core skills training, new employees will get streamlined into a particular Work Crew and get some crew specific training as well. “Crews” are responsible for a sub-set of tasks at a nuclear station (e.g., the Welding Crew, the Compressor Crew, the Heating and Ventilation Crew (HVAC Crew)). Assignment to a Crew is determined by OPG both on the basis of an employees’ previous training/experience and on the basis of plant needs.
- Successful completion of initial skills training (as per internal OPG training success criteria) signifies that the employee is qualified to work in a particular/on a particular set of tasks. Trainees must wait until they are deemed qualified in a particular area/set of tasks in order to be able to apply their knowledge/skills.
ADVANCED CORE SKILLS TRAINING
There is a second block of core skills training as well. After completion of the initial core skills training, employees are brought back into training, over specific time intervals, to complete the remaining core skills program.
- More advanced skills and a wide array of skills are taught in the second block of training. Training is conducted as per plant needs and the training schedule. In total, approximately eight months of training is completed over the course of four years.
- Similar to initial skills training, trainees alternate between in-class and OJT training. In-class training typically lasts 2 weeks, followed by several weeks of field/OJT training.
- Each new set of training qualifies the employee to work on a particular task. At the end of the 4-year period, the employee will be qualified to work on a wide variety of tasks. As new processes are developed, employees will be required to also update their skills/receive refresher training (see “Training and Career Opportunities” section).
For both the initial and advanced skills training, candidates must complete written and practical evaluation tests to be deemed qualified to work on a particular task. For instance, throughout training, trainees are required to complete little projects, which are then evaluated to assess candidates’ practical (“hands-on”) knowledge/skills. As well, there might be some written tests for any text-related material.
Trainees find the training workload to be very manageable and the training content to be quite basic. With the initial-skills training, although new candidates might get to learn some new skills, if they have substantial prior work experience/training, they will find that the training is easy and
overlaps with knowledge they might already know.
The first three months of training are considered to be a “probationary period” for the Mechanical Technician. The probationary period may be extended to six months, if required. Mandatory union membership and access to OPG benefits are provided during this period. Pension plan enrolment begins upon completion of the probationary period.
Overview of the Job
“What is the job?”
Below is a broad description of the duties and other characteristics (e.g., work schedule, work load) of a Mechanical Technician’s job. The overview is not meant to be exhaustive in its description. Rather, the duties and characteristics described provide a summary of some of the key aspects of the Mechanical Technician job.
Following are some of the duties carried out by Mechanical Technicians:
MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS OF MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT
The majority of Mechanical Technician duties require inspection, preventative, and predictive maintenance work on equipment (e.g., changing oil, tightening flanges). Such work requires monitoring equipment closely so that mechanical problems can be prevented or diagnosed and addressed early. As is typical of such work, the tasks can be somewhat repetitious. Mechanical Technicians should be comfortable doing such repetitive work. Aside from preventative and predictive maintenance, Mechanical Technicians would also be required to carry out actual repairs (e.g., repairing turbines, replacing motors and changing seals on pumps of varying sizes).
Considering that Mechanical Technicians have to diagnose mechanical problems, some troubleshooting may be required to identify solutions to
these problems. For example, if a Mechanical Technician detects a leak during routine inspection, they would need to set up the required equipment and conduct the appropriate tests to pinpoint the location of the leak and possibly determine how to fix the problem. The severity of the problems can vary such that troubleshooting might take anywhere from a day to months, depending on the nature of the problem. When troubleshooting, OPG policies and procedures must be followed closely. The amount of troubleshooting required of a Mechanical Technician varies by crew but generally, is not a major part of the job. Once the problem is identified, members from other work crews e.g., Assessors, would finalize how to proceed.
The physical requirements of the Mechanical Technician job can be fairly intensive at times, contingent on the work group. Work might need to be
conducted on anything from small pumps to large turbines, or massive valves. Mechanical Technicians could be required to do manual lifting, or to pull on heavy wrenches when working on large pumps. Equipment (e.g., wrenches, hammers, etc) can vary in size from small pieces, to 25-30 lb equipment. As such, there is a physical component to the Mechanical Technician job. While this work can be physically demanding, OPG requires that safe methods be used to carry out any physically demanding work.
DOCUMENTATION AND HOUSEKEEPING
There is a lot of paper work associated with the Mechanical Technician job, particularly because there are several other work crews associated with/impacted by the work of Mechanical Technicians who need to be kept informed/updated about the status of work being completed. As such, every shift, Mechanical Technicians must work on the computer to complete work reports (e.g., Pre-Job and Post-Job Briefs), Work Request forms, to order parts, etc. Such administrative work can take up several hours in a day depending on the volume of work being completed or the nature of the problem(s) and requires some proficiency in working with computers.
OPG is highly procedurally driven in order to meet federally regulated nuclear licensing requirements and to proactively manage the safety of all
individuals (in the plant, and the community) because they recognize the benefits of working safely in nuclear. At OPG, safety is good business as they strive for an injury-free workplace. As such, strict adherence to OPG policies and procedures is mandatory and required at all times. Mechanical Technicians must be comfortable adhering to procedures. As part of policy/procedural adherence, Mechanical Technicians must obtain authorizations from various work groups (e.g., Authorized Nuclear Operators) at various (often multiple) stages of the work process. Significant
delays are a very common part of the authorization process. Patience in dealing with these delays and ability to manage time accordingly is essential. Mechanical Technician would also be required to keep up-to-date with changes to policies, procedures, and regulations.
Additional, important aspects of the job are described below.
Due to a requirement for strict adherence to policies and procedures, there is little discretion in determining how work gets carried out. When a problem is identified, Mechanical Technicians must follow procedures to get required authorizations and permits before proceeding with further work. However, Mechanical Technicians can provide input into how to fix problems (e.g., to supervisor, Engineers), as long as that input is within procedures and scope of the work. This input is part of the “questioning attitude” that all employees must hold to maintain a safe working environment.
The variety in the Mechanical Technician job comes from working on different equipment/repairs (e.g., replacing fire-line vs. fixing leaks), working with different crew members, or working in different areas of the plant. However, the tasks themselves can become routine and repetitive as one becomes well acquainted with the job over time and because there are pre-established procedures that must be followed each time.
Mechanical Technicians are regularly required to work with others. As new hires, Mechanical Technicians are paired up with experienced employees.
Also, Mechanical Technicians work on a Crew consisting of multiple (e.g., 10) OPG employees who have varying skills/professional backgrounds. During daily activities, Mechanical Technicians could potentially work with three different people from their Crew. Aside from their Crew, Mechanical Technicians have to interact with members from other work groups (e.g., Nuclear Operators). As such, Mechanical Technicians have to be comfortable working co-operatively with people from a variety of professional backgrounds, with varying levels of experience.
WORK PACE AND LOAD
Safety concerns are paramount at OPG. As such, the work pace is not hurried – ample time is provided to complete required duties in a safe manner. In the past, delays have been a reality for the Mechanical Technicians, however, more recent efforts have been made to minimize these delays and
continuous improvements are being made by the Mechanical Technicians themselves as well as their supervisors, and upper management. In some circumstances, Mechanical Technicians will have to be able to work quickly and in a timely fashion if another work group’s task schedule is dependent on their work. It is extremely important to note that safety concerns are the number one priority at OPG, and employees are never expected to compromise safety while trying to complete a task quickly.
Alternate work arrangement policies are in place for women who are pregnant or for men and women with immediate plans to conceive children (applicable to our Nuclear facilities). Alternate work arrangements are such that they minimize chances of exposure to radiation.
HOURS OF WORK
There are several shifts at OPG – 8-hour shifts, 10-hour shifts, and rotating 12-hour shifts. The 8-hour and 10-hour shifts are typically day shifts;
their start times can vary. In contrast, the 12-hour shifts are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Though Mechanical Technicians have to be prepared to do any of these shifts and be flexible in their availability, they will largely be required to do the 8-hour and 10-hour day shifts.
- When working the 12-hour shifts, there is a shift premium percentage above regular 8 hour wages and there is additional time off (beyond the 2-weeks entitled vacation days) every year.
- If needed, everyone is expected to be willing to work weekdays, weekends and statutory holidays, day shifts and night shifts. A typical shift includes paid time off for breaks and unpaid lunch periods. For example, a typical 8-hour shift starts at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. The
shift includes time off for two paid 10-minute breaks and one, unpaid 30-minute lunch break.
- Schedules are set one year in advance and are balanced over the course of the year to average out to 40 hours per week. For instance, OPG typically tries to maintain five-day coverage between the various trades Crews who are working 10-hour shifts. As such, people are scheduled for shifts from Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday, to average to 40 hours per week.
Training and Career Opportunities
“Do I need to keep learning? And, where can I go from here?”
INTERNAL CONTINUOUS LEARNING REQUIREMENTS
Mechanical Technicians are required to complete on-going training (provided by OPG). Training is required for re-qualification/refresher purposes (e.g., Mechanical Technicians need to requalify their CWB tickets annually), as well as to acquaint personnel with plant or system changes (e.g., new equipment, new work processes). Training is very plant specific i.e., non-transferable across OPG plant sites. Training length can vary from half a day to three days and tends to be required at least once a month. Some of the training is computer-based.
EXTERNAL TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
If Mechanical Technicians feel that they will benefit from training opportunities available outside OPG and they can demonstrate that the training is job-relevant, OPG will pay for that training.
Mechanical Technicians can move to different positions at the same level in the organization (“lateral move”) or can move to higher positions at OPG (“vertical move”).
- LATERAL MOVES: Opportunities are available if Mechanical Technicians want to work in a different work environment (e.g., at another plant), on a new crew, in a different role within the Trades group (e.g., assessors – evaluate the nature of the work that needs to be carried out, assess the requirements for the work, and assemble work packages/work plans accordingly), or work elsewhere in the organization in a non-Trades position (e.g., as a training coordinator; in an administrative role within the Trades area, working with costing/planning). Such opportunities often require re-training. If a Mechanical Technician expresses interest in making a lateral move, a manager/supervisor will typically try to accommodate his/her request. The only exception is when OPG is actively hiring new Mechanical Technicians due to staffing shortages – at such times, current incumbents are not “releasable” into alternate positions.
- VERTICAL MOVES: There are several advancement opportunities within OPG. For instance, Mechanical Technicians can aim to become assistant-supervisors, or work-team leaders. Advancement into these roles, particularly the assistant supervisor role (called the First Line Manager Assistant – FLMA), is based on meeting certain qualifications. Interested applicants would have to apply for these positions.
- Though there are several positions to move into, openings for the positions may be limited. Also, it might take a Mechanical Technician considerable time to get the required years of experience to apply for a position. This delay is because advancement is partially contingent on the requirement for Mechanical Technicians to become a journeyperson prior to applying for some positions (which can take up to 8 years if you enter OPG with minimal experience). However, in the interim, for positions such as the FLMA role, temporary “step up” roles are available. “Step up” roles provide Mechanical Technicians with an opportunity to take on some of the co-ordination / oversight roles of an FLMA.
Pay and Benefits
“Is it a well-paid job?”
WAGES AND BENEFITS
These are based on the collective agreement. OPG’s benefits package is considered to be above industry standard. Pay is considered to be above average to that found across the industry for similar skilled trades positions. If a Mechanical Technician enters with minimal experience, it takes
approximately eight years to qualify for the maximum pay rate (i.e., the top step in the pay scale for the Mechanical Technician job). The amount of prior experience will determine at which pay “step” a new Mechanical Technician would begin. Pay progression occurs annually. The union negotiates economic increases.
“Goal sharing bonuses” are available contingent on OPG Corporate and the plant meeting their profitability targets.
Mechanical Technicians have not expressed any imminent concerns with regards to their job security.
Recently, OPG has implemented a range of small-scale initiatives
to recognize varying levels of work excellence. For instance, employees can get
anything from recognition cards that acknowledge the higher caliber work done by
an employee to Vice President recognition awards.
“How much supervision will I receive?”
Mechanical Technicians have two immediate bosses – the FLMA and First Line Managers (FLM). The FLMA organizes, monitors, and oversees the daily activities of the Mechanical Technician. In contrast, the FLM works with the FLMA to co-ordinate activities of the entire work crew. As well, the FLM is responsible for any issues requiring disciplinary action.
As a new employee, the FLMA checks and oversees a Mechanical Technicians’ work frequently. However, the typical, experienced Mechanical Technician works independent of constant supervision. Instead, the FLMA oversees the work of the Mechanical Technician, touching base regularly (but not constantly) to determine status of work, provide assistance, or ensure that work is being completed as required.
If a Mechanical Technician is asked to work on another Crew, they would be accountable to that Crew’s supervisor.
Physical Working Environment
“What is the physical work environment like?”
In the normal course of their duties, the Mechanical Technician has to be comfortable dealing with several aversive working conditions.
Mechanical Technicians have to be comfortable with the idea that they will be working in potentially hazardous or radioactively contaminated areas. Working in such areas does lead to low-grade contamination. However, hazardous/contaminated areas are highly monitored, minimizing threat. Mechanical Technicians are required to wear protective safety equipment/ clothing at all times, particularly if entering such areas. As well, OPG has very stringent criteria as to allowable levels of exposure to contaminated materials/areas. OPG’s standards are stricter than those set by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. OPG is very strict about enforcing its safety policies.
Some of the protective equipment and clothing can be heavy or feel restrictive (e.g., plastic suits, respirators). Mechanical Technicians have to be comfortable being restricted in this manner, sometimes for extended periods. Also, OPG employees are required to wear OPG-provided safety clothing, in designated areas (e.g., hard hats, ear plugs).
Mechanical Technicians might have to crawl into confined spaces, work at significant heights (e.g., on floors with gratings that have 25 feet drops under the gratings), work in high heat locations (e.g., around hot, steam-producing equipment), work with chemicals varying in toxicity levels (e.g., hydrazine, ammonia), work in areas with limited fresh air circulation, and work in areas with high noise levels. Although these hazards are present in the workplace, controls are in place to always protect the safety of the workers.
Mechanical Technicians will be working indoors for the majority of their shift, under artificial light. They are on their feet for the majority of their day moving through large portions of the plant.
OPG has implemented highly secure locker room facilities, separated for men and women. Note that most Mechanical Technicians might be required to change into or out of their safety clothing frequently. Individuals will need to be/become comfortable disrobing in front of their same-sex colleagues because of nonpartitioned same-sex locker room facilities. As well, Mechanical Technicians have to be comfortable wearing safety clothing and undergarments provided by OPG.
Appealing Aspects of the Job
“What do other Mechanical Technicians like about the job?”
The Mechanical Technician position has some interesting and desirable aspects. Following are quotes from Mechanical Technicians as they describe what they like about their jobs.
OPG offers good pay and a very good benefits package. Their employees consider the compensation to be well-above industry averages for mechanical work.
Mechanical Technician Quote:
“We are here to do a job and we are very well-paid for it.”
OPG is very supportive of continuous knowledge development.
Mechanical Technician Quote:
“OPG is so open to providing you with training. If you find something job-relevant out there, they will pay for your training. It feels that you can go anywhere in this company because of that support.”
Some recent initiatives at OPG recognize employees for a job well done.
Mechanical Technician Quote:
“It makes you feel good when you’ve done something good for the crew or done a good job and get an “ACE” card. It is really nice to get recognized.”
OPG’S SAFETY CULTURE
OPG has a very strong safety culture – it maintains high safety standards and requires strict policy adherence.
Mechanical Technician Quotes:
“OPG’s safety standards are even more stringent than those required by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). For example, the CNSC has established strict limits on radiation exposure allowed. OPG has set even higher safety standards.”
“If you are concerned about the safety of a particular task, you can always raise the concern with someone. The goal at OPG is to ensure that everyone always maintains a questioning attitude. We/They will find a safer way of doing things.”
Unappealing Aspects of the Job
“What do other Mechanical Technicians find hard to deal with about the job?”
As with any job, there are aspects of the job that are less desirable, even negative in some cases, and challenging to manage. Following are quotes from Mechanical Technicians as they describe the more unappealing aspects of their job.
Until new employees complete their training, they do not get to apply the knowledge/skills they already have from their years of prior experience/training. This experience can feel a little frustrating.
Mechanical Technician Quote:
“As a trainee, you won’t get to apply your own knowledge [from before] for at least a year because you are in training. Also, because some of the training relates to a lot more than just your job [i.e. is broad], you don’t get to apply the full range of things you learn. So, the training can feel as though it was interesting but not all aspects were job relevant.”
After training, Mechanical Technicians may get assigned to a crew that doesn’t utilize their full range of skills.
Mechanical Technician Quote:
“I came into OPG as a welder and fitter but was assigned to a different crew. At first, it was frustrating because I found that I could not use all my [welding/fitting] skills from my years of experience.”
Although OPG adheres to the strictest of safety standards and has standards even more stringent than those required by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, employees must be comfortable with the fact that they are working in a nuclear environment.
Mechanical Technician Quote:
“Even though the safety measures taken are very good, you will have to work in radioactively contaminated or dirty areas. With certain jobs, you will get more exposure to these conditions than others. You cannot be paranoid about contamination.”
Critical Success Factors
“What does it take to be a good Mechanical Technician?”
This RJP summarizes the most important aspects of the Mechanical Technician job. Review the following list of factors important for success and satisfaction as a Mechanical Technician. Use the list as a self-assessment guide to think about how well your skills match those necessary to be successful at the Mechanical Technician job.
- Follow strict policies and procedures
- Work on computers
- Work in potentially uncomfortable environments (e.g., working in hot environments, at heights, in confined spaces, with noise)
- Work in dirty, radiation-prone, or potentially contaminated areas or work with Radiation Protection equipment (plastic suits, respirators) and Personal Protection equipment (foot wear, hearing protection, gloves)
- Do physically intensive work
- Interested in the mechanical and technical functioning of equipment
- A conservative and methodical decision-maker
Will I Be…
- Patient in handling possible multiple delays to my work flow
- Safety conscious with a questioning attitude
- Good at working with a variety of people
- Be flexible in accommodating changes to my work day
OPG Contact Information
“How can I get my questions answered?”
For further information please consult OPG’s website www.mypowercareer.com to get more information or to contact OPG.
In this document, we have attempted to provide you with BASIC information about the Mechanical Technician position, i.e., information that is broad in its breadth of coverage, accurate in its depiction of the job, specific to the Mechanical Technician job, important to being satisfied in this position, and is based on credible information, gathered directly from current Mechanical Technicians. We hope the information has been useful in helping you decide whether you would like to submit an application to OPG for this position.