Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

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Also known as:  Freight Brake Operator, Locomotive Switch Operator, Railroad Brake Operator, Railway Switch Operator, Switch Coupler, Train Brake Operator
SNAPSHOT Expand
Operate railroad track switches. Couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Signal engineers by hand or flagging. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
LOW
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
LOW
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
HIGH
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
MED
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DAILY TASKS Expand
Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops in order to warn oncoming trains.
Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.
Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
Receive oral or written instructions from yardmasters or yard conductors indicating track assignments and cars to be switched.
Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.
Raise levers to couple and uncouple cars for makeup and breakup of trains.
Inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and handbrakes to ensure that they are securely fastened and functioning properly.
Observe signals from other crewmembers so that work activities can be coordinated.
Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.
MAIN ACTIVITIES Expand
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE Expand
Transportation Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Law and Government Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
KEY ABILITIES Expand
Far Vision The ability to see details at a distance.
Auditory Attention The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
Control Precision The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Multilimb Coordination The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Near Vision The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Trunk Strength The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
TOP SKILLS Expand
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
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