Insulator (Heat and Frost) Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Insulator (Heat and Frost) trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Calorifugeur/calorifugeuse (chaleur et froid)

NOC: 7293

Designation Year: 1991

RSOS Products for Download

The Insulator (Heat and Frost) Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each of these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Insulator (Heat and Frost) A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Insulator (Heat and Frost) A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Insulator (Heat and Frost) (PDF, 964 KB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Insulator (Heat and Frost) Trade

“Insulator (Heat and Frost)” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by an insulator (heat and frost) whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:

Heat and Frost Insulator           X              
Insulator         X                
Insulator (Heat and Frost) X X X X     X X X X X X X

Insulators (heat and frost) work with different kinds of insulating material to prevent or reduce the passage of heat, cold, vapour, moisture, sound or fire. They read and interpret drawings and specifications to determine insulation requirements, select the amount and type of insulation to be installed, and measure and cut insulating material to the required dimensions. They then apply, install, repair and maintain insulating material. Insulated surfaces may be finished with materials such as plastics, aluminum, galvanized steel and coated steel, stainless steel, canvas, mastic laminate or finishing cement. Insulators (heat and frost) also lay out and fabricate parts on-site, or remove or seal off old insulation.

Types of insulating materials that may be used include calcium silicate, ceramic fibre, elastomeric foam, nano-like technology, mineral fibre, fibreglass, polyurethane, polystyrene and cellular glass. They may be used for systems such as plumbing, air-handling, exhaust, heating, cooling and refrigeration, for piping equipment, pressure vessels and storage tanks, as well as for walls, floors and ceilings of buildings, industrial complexes and ships.

Removing old insulating material such as asbestos, ceramic fibres, lead and mould is also part of the trade. Special training and licenses may be required to deal with these types of materials. Spraying insulating materials and installing fireproofing and fire stop systems are also specialized parts of the trade.

Insulators (heat and frost) are employed by governments, construction companies, insulation contractors and industrial plants, or may also be self-employed. They work on residential, industrial, commercial and institutional projects. Their work schedules depend on the type of work they are doing, ranging from regular work weeks, to shift work or irregular work hours. Schedules may depend on the availability of contracts, or inconvenience or health risks to adjacent workers or the public.

Insulators (heat and frost) work with a number of hand tools and power tools. They use personal protective equipment to protect themselves from workplace hazards. Also, they frequently use scaffolds, aerial lifts and ladders to help them accomplish their tasks. They can work indoors or outdoors, often in extreme temperatures. They may perform some of their tasks in confined spaces. Depending on the location of work, they may be required to travel.

The ability to be focused and responsible is a vital part of insulators’ (heat and frost) work and safety. The work often requires the insulators (heat and frost) to spend most of the day on their feet, bending, kneeling, working at heights, climbing (scaffolds, ladders) and lifting. Insulators (heat and frost) must be able to use their body to brace large items and guide objects or materials into place. This requires them to have a good combination of motor co-ordination, and manual and finger dexterity.

This standard recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of boilermakers, roofers, sheet metal workers, painters and carpenters.

With experience, insulators (heat and frost) act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They can also move into positions such as maintenance, instructor, contractor, foreperson, superintendent or estimator.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

Tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

  • Reading

    Insulators (heat and frost) use reading skills to read manuals and details of job specifications such as material lists. They read safety notices, work permits, safety regulations and emergency procedures in order to maintain a safe work environment.

  • Document Use

    Documents that insulators (heat and frost) work with include material lists, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) sheets and labels, instructions, work orders, reports, dispatch sheets and memos. They may also consult and interpret blueprints, specifications and permits, and complete logbooks.

  • Writing

    Insulators (heat and frost) write lists of materials and instructions. They may write hazard assessments, accident reports or keep work records for themselves and apprentices.

  • Oral Communication

    Insulators (heat and frost) use oral communication skills during daily or weekly toolbox meetings with co-workers and supervisors to discuss job details. They also meet with workers from other trades to coordinate work. Oral communication skills are important when training apprentices.

  • Numeracy

    Insulators (heat and frost) use numeracy skills for measuring and cutting insulation, and determining thickness of insulation for pipes, ducts and equipment. They use formulas for calculating surface areas of frustrums, cones, and regular and irregular shapes to estimate required materials. They also use formulas to determine the thickness of insulation. They may need to convert between metric and imperial measurements.

  • Thinking

    Problem solving skills are used by insulators (heat and frost) to anticipate and deal with situations such as materials not arriving as scheduled, unplanned shortages, or the wrong materials being delivered. Every job is different and often plans change requiring insulators (heat and frost) to adapt to the current requirements. Insulators (heat and frost) use their decision making skills when dealing with various issues such as where to make cuts so the material can be formed to the required shape and how to accurately cut the material to avoid waste.

  • Digital Technology

    Computers may be used by insulators (heat and frost) for tasks such as accessing specifications and blueprints (Computer Assisted Drawing [CAD]), receiving work orders and for the delivery of safety training. They use digital measuring equipment such as heat guns and thermal imaging cameras, and software such as energy loss assessment. Internet-based applications are also commonly used for research and documentation.

  • Working with Others

    Insulators (heat and frost) mostly work independently. They co-ordinate their work with other workers on-site including apprentices, journeypersons, supervisory personnel and workers from other trades depending on the size of the work site and the type of work.

  • Continuous Learning

    There is an ongoing requirement to learn while working as an insulator (heat and frost). Work sites and companies may have different protocols. Applications, materials and processes are continually changing and skills need to be kept up-to-date.

Trends in the Insulator (Heat and Frost) Trade


There are new insulating materials being introduced such as aluminum impregnated insulation, nano-like technology and wicking type insulation. Endothermic sheets for fireproofing electrical trays are being used more and more frequently. Their application and maintenance requires that insulators (heat and frost) stay up-to-date. More prefabricated materials have emerged, but insulators are still required to do layout and fabrication on-site.

Tools and equipment

Many tools have become more technologically advanced. For example, there are more electric and power fabrication tools such as electric rollers and shears. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines may become more common in this industry for the fabrication of metal fittings.

Safety and environmental considerations

Workplace safety is increasingly being driven by government regulations. Training and certification for asbestos removal is becoming prevalent in many jurisdictions. Due to growing concerns for the environment, there is an increased demand by clients for the use of insulation for energy saving purposes and environmentally friendly products such as low volatile organic compound (VOC) products. Mechanical insulation plays a large role in efforts to lower carbon emissions to net zero. This is driving an increased use of environmentally friendly mechanical insulation and products. This can also help in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Changes in building codes have had a large impact on energy conservation and the work of insulators (heat and frost).

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional regulations and standards. All health and safety standards must be respected and observed. Work should be performed efficiently and at a high quality while minimizing material waste and environmental damage. All requirements of the manufacturer and client specifications must be met. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be completed with minimal direction and supervision. As a journeyperson progresses in their career there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade through mentoring of apprentices.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common language of business as well as language of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Roderick Alberton - Saskatchewan
  • Jeremy Carlson - Manitoba
  • Richard Chartrand - Quebec
  • Carey Chutskoff - Saskatchewan
  • David Gardner - Ontario
  • Robert Gray - Manitoba
  • Neil Holatko - Alberta
  • Ken Jakobsson - British Columbia
  • Todd Lewis - British Columbia
  • Alyre Malley - Nova Scotia
  • Adam Melnick - Ontario
  • Robert Robertson - Alberta
  • Joshua Sherrard - New Brunswick
  • George Thompson - British Columbia
  • Matthew Walsh - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • James Whitenect - New Brunswick
  • Michael Wilson - Ontario

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Regulated Occupations Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this standard were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of British Columbia, the host jurisdiction for this trade.