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Bradley Bishop has worked on the Jacksonville waterfront since the age of 18.

By Hilary Reeves

Last month, Bradley Bishop shed his role as TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico’s Jacksonville Terminal Operations Manager in favor of a new position: Director of Safety.

“I don’t come in looking for recognition at the end of the day. I just want people to go home the way they came in. I truly believe that.”

Bishop was hired at TOTE in February of 2018 and was honored as a 2018 Safety Award nominee for his detailed, zone-based approach to preventing injuries both within the terminal and outside in the yard. He started working the Jacksonville waterfront, where he was born and raised, when he was 18 years old.

“When I was 17, I thought I knew everything,” he laughed. “My dream was to play baseball and ride motorcycles.”

Bishop was involved in an unfortunate motorcycle accident and shattered his leg, ending his baseball career. He decided to follow his stepfather into the maritime industry, where he was a heavy equipment mechanic. He spent the first few weeks on the job at Global Stevedoring sweeping a parking lot, then moved to general labor, then onto forklift. Eventually, he became a crane operator.

At 23, a baseball scout encouraged Bishop to try out for an independent professional league in Pensacola, Florida. He earned a spot on a team as a catcher/pitcher and spent a year playing, fulfilling a long-held dream. He had the opportunity to play winter ball in Columbia but instead chose to marry his high school sweetheart. During the following four years, Bishop’s life changed quickly. He bought a house and had two children.

After eight years at Global Stevedoring and a year of baseball, Bishop spent the next 12 years at Portus, a vendor used by stevedoring companies.

“Portus had gone through an acquisition, and our vision and values weren’t aligned,” he said. “But I worked with TOTE as a vendor, and I believed in the values TOTE had.”

Growth at TOTE

Bishop, left, meets with coworkers in his Jacksonville office.
Bishop, left, meets with coworkers in his Jacksonville office.

Bishop quickly pursued a terminal manager position and identified what he described as gaps that needed addressing.

“Going through our regular yearly audit, I thought that instead of waiting until the end of the year, we should go after any hazards beforehand,” he said. “There was a ‘near-miss’ program in place, and I wanted to reduce the number of near-misses and unsafe conditions. I say the fewer near-misses, the better. I wanted to be proactive, rather than reactive to identify the unsafe conditions to reduce the near misses.”

Bishop launched a Zone Inspection Program, which broke the terminal’s 54 acres into nine areas. An initial hazard assessment identified 20 areas of concern: potential slips, trips and falls, piggybacked extension cords, vague signage, and fire extinguisher concerns. After initial corrections were made, the program required one employee from TOTE and one employee from the company’s stevedore vendor to conduct the zone inspection, rotating zones weekly.

“Our goal is fresh eyes in these areas,” he said, “and we’re definitely seeing results and identifying critical opportunities to make improvements all the time.”

Bishop said he feels empowered by TOTE’s senior management.

“When you have an idea, they want you to make the best of it,” he said. “They harness that energy.”

His new position as Director of Safety covers the Jacksonville terminal, San Juan, and the TMPR corporate offices.

Bishop prepares to hand paperwork to a gate guard, both wear green reflective vests.

“I look at it as a privilege to work for this company,” said Bishop, “and hope this is a place my son and daughter would want to work for one day. They are now 13 and 11.”

Bishop is looking forward to the new challenges in this stage of his career and wants to make sure his co-workers and friends make it home safe.

Safety first.”

TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico Director of Safety Bradley Bishop is one of 10 nominees for the 2018 Saltchuk Safety Awards, awarded annually to an individual responsible for an innovative idea that improves safety behaviors and to an individual who displays distinguished service with regard to safety.

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.