An operating mechanism controls and trips a separable contact structure arranged in a protected circuit. The mechanism includes a frame, a drive member pivotally coupled to the frame, a spring pivotally connecting the drive member to a drive connector, an upper link pivotally seated on the drive connector, a lower link member pivotally coupled to the drive connector, a crank member pivotally coupled to the lower link member for interfacing the separable contact structure, and a cradle member pivotally secured to the frame and pivotally securing the upper link. The cradle member is configured for being releasably engaged by a latch assembly, which is displaced upon occurrence of a predetermined condition in the circuit such as a trip condition. The mechanism is movable between a tripped position, a reset position, an off position, and an on position. Spacers are operatively positioned between movable members, and protrusions are operatively formed on the enclosure of the contact structure. The spacers and protrusions serve to widen the stance of the operating mechanism for force distribution purposes, and also to minimize friction between movable components.