Occ. Code 7224000




New York State Department of Civil Service


Classification Standard






Positions in this class exist only in the New York State Canal Corporation where they operate and maintain the canal system which includes 57 locks (47 are original equipment, 4 mechanical-electrical and 6 modern hydraulic), 16 lift bridges, guard gates and several movable dams.


Canal Structure Operators interact with canal users to provide information, respond to inquiries, collect tolls, etc.; manipulate switches and levers on control panels and open and close valves and gates in the mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic operation of a canal lock, movable dam or lift bridge.  Incumbents also use hand and power tools, typical of a semiskilled worker in maintaining and repairing equipment on the canal system.




Canal Structure Operator is the entry level in the Canal Structure operation and maintenance series.  The class is characterized by each incumbent's operation of a canal structure alone on an assigned shift usually other than the day shift, following detailed standard operating procedures and any special oral or written instructions issued by their immediate supervisor, a Chief Lock Operator.  In addition, following a preventative maintenance schedule, they independently lubricate mechanical parts, check and clean gear trains, maintain fluid levels and change filters.  They also record specific operating data, collect tolls and orally give canal users information necessary to successfully pass through the lock.


They serve, in the off navigation season, as members of small crews performing major rehabilitation of structures such as disassembling, repairing and replacing motors and components, usually under the immediate supervision of a Chief Lock Operator.


Chief Lock Operators are responsible for the maintenance and operation of a canal lock and related structures.  They usually work the day shift and are on 24-hour call in the event of an emergency.  They issue maintenance instructions to the Canal Structure Operators who work other shifts and supervise off season maintenance projects.




Operates any of a variety of locks following detailed standing and special procedures.


·        Observes or is notified of approaching float, energizes control panels to either fill or empty the lock chamber, and when water level is equalized, energizes control panel by manipulating one or a series of switches and levers to open lock entry gates and turns on traffic control light to signal vessel to enter lock chamber.


·        Observes passage of vessel into lock chamber, advises crew of proper mooring procedure, and logs name or registry number of vessel, time of passage and any unusual occurrence.


·        Closes lock gate and turns on traffic light to stop any other approaching vessels.


·        Energizes control panel to either fill or empty the lock, keeping vessel under observation in the event of a sudden emergency which might require stopping or reversing the water level equalization process.


·        Observes the water level and when equalized on both sides of lock gates, opens lock gate and when vessel has exited, closes exit lock gates and valves and repeats procedure for next vessel awaiting passage.


·        If operator is roving between structures, all waiting vessels are passed through the lock and the operator proceeds by automobile to the next structure which may be several miles away.


·        In the event of a failure or breakdown of the equipment, notifies the supervisor giving the nature and extent of the problem.


Operates a guard gate by energizing a control panel to raise or lower the gate as needed and to operate valves, when the gate is down, to regulate water flow to the locks below the guard gate.


Operates a movable bridge by energizing a control panel to raise or lower the bridge, as needed, and to control vehicular traffic over the bridge.


Performs regular preventative maintenance tasks.










During the winter months when the canal system is closed performs a variety of maintenance activities.




During major structure overhauls performs a variety of semiskilled tasks characteristic of a maintenance assistant in servicing pumps, maintaining cofferdams and assisting in the installation of temporary wiring.


Performs miscellaneous maintenance work.





In accordance with specific procedures and in a standard format records daily weather, wind direction, air temperature, water level readings, a log of vessels passing through the lock and any unusual occurrences taking place.




Although the tasks assigned this class are predominantly thing-oriented, Canal Structure Operators have regular contact with canal users for the purpose of collecting tolls and giving advice on canal rules and regulations, available facilities, and any unusual circumstance which might affect the flow of canal traffic.  They must also maintain cordial relationships with visitors, providing general information on the canal and its structures. In the event of an emergency, Operators must be able to accurately report the precise nature of the malfunction, utilizing the proper mechanical, electrical or hydraulic nomenclature, so that either the Chief Lock Operator or Canal Electrical Supervisor who will effect the repairs will arrive with the tools and parts necessary to accomplish the task.




A Canal Structure Operator is supervised by a Chief Lock Operator who makes shift assignments.  However, during the operating season, Canal Structure Operators function without the direct observation of a supervisor.  However, the tasks performed are governed by detailed procedures which must be followed to avoid a breakdown of the equipment.  The Chief reviews records, responds to emergencies and gives special operating instructions.  During the non-operating season, Canal Structure Operators are directly supervised by a Chief Lock Operator.


Canal Structure Operators may supervise seasonal Canal Helpers who perform the most routine work in and around a canal structure.  The Operators give specific instructions and observe the performance of tasks.




Canal Structure Operators use a variety of hand and power tools appropriate to the mechanical and electrical trades.  They also use a variety of hand and power tools normally utilized in building and grounds maintenance.  They are also required to operate a motor vehicle.





















Open Competitive:


1.                  Six months of experience in the operation and assembly/maintenance of mechanical, electrical, automotive or diesel machinery; or

2.                  Six months of experience working on a canal, of which 50% of your duties must have included working at a canal lock and/or lift bridge; or

3.                  A certificate of completion from a BOCES or a post-high school program in electrical maintenance, electrical construction; or mechanical, automotive, diesel repair or technology; or

4.                  Six college semester credit hours in electrical construction, electrical maintenance or in hydraulic, mechanical, automotive diesel repair or technology; or

5.                  An equivalent combination of the training and experience requirements noted above.


Candidates must also possess a valid license to operate a motor vehicle in New York State at the time of appointment and continuously thereafter.




Reviewed:  4/05





NOTE:  Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe.  Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class.  The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written.  Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.