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CC Williams noticed safety issues resulting from the redesign of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico’s Jacksonville terminal.

By Hilary Reeves

Williams stands with arms crossed and a smile on his face between TOTE shipping containers, Williams is wearing a green reflective vest and wraparound sunglasses.TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico Terminal Assistant Cornelious “CC” Williams was recently announced as a 2017 recipient of the Saltchuk President’s Award for Innovation in Safety.

“At first, I was very surprised,” he said. “I wasn’t sure anyone was paying attention. Safety is part of my daily routine. It’s a great honor and privilege to receive this award, especially with the significance of the name it’s associated with.”

Williams was born and raised in Jacksonville, attending Florida A&M University and settling into a career as a restaurant manager.

“I had the opportunity to open six restaurants from the ground up, gaining knowledge in operations and developing teams. (But) having a work-life balance became a priority as the years passed.”

Williams shifted gears, landing a job as a stevedore with APM Terminals. He was then hired at Sea Star as a Terminal Generalist.

“The terminal was undergoing an enormous transition between construction and operating systems at the time,” he said. “Recognizing there was a need for a presence in the terminal at all times, the opportunity led me to my current position as a Terminal Assistant with TOTE. I find being in the terminal exciting, since there’s rarely a dull moment. Each day, something new and unexpected happens, providing opportunities to coach, teach, and grow. Nothing can compare to having that hands-on perspective.”

Company President Tim Nolan nominated Williams for the award. According to Nolan, the redesign of the Jacksonville terminal led to issues with drivers not wearing safety vests, cutting through container stacks, getting out of their trucks in restricted areas, and new drivers not knowing terminal safety rules.

Williams, Nolan noted, came up with a plan to rectify the safety hazard, taking into account the trucking company’s perspective as well. He quickly determined the best course of action was to create a “Safety Rules” pamphlet outlining proper terminal safety for drivers. Williams also developed a Driver’s Terminal Infraction Program, which suspends drivers after three acknowledged terminal safety infractions.

“Cornelious plays a huge role in ensuring our Jacksonville terminal is a safer place to work, even for our vendors,” wrote Nolan. “Since the launch of this program, there have been fewer and fewer infractions. Cornelious helped put the word on the street that drivers must adhere to our safety rules, and that TOTE has the safest terminal in Jacksonville.”

Williams stands in a shipyard smiling and giving a thumbs up, he has on a green reflective vest and TOTE hard hat.Williams said the terminal rules were devised as a result of the collaborative efforts of Risk Management, the terminal superintendent, the terminal manager, and terminal operators, and designed to address accidents and near-misses already experienced at the terminal.

“During the first few months of implementation, I educated and reinforced awareness amongst the truck drivers,” he said. “Once knowledge of the program reached the drivers, terminal infractions were enforced. As with anything new, there was some resistance. But now drivers are beginning to recognize that I’m only trying to keep everyone safe.”

According to Williams, all days are busy days.

“You can find me patrolling all 54 acres of the terminal,” he said. “On vessel operation days, I position myself in the highest traffic areas where a majority of terminal infractions occur. My greatest challenge is conveying that the safe way is the only way. We have zero tolerance for being reckless and unsafe. I want nothing more than for everyone to get home safely to their families.”

Williams’s favorite TOTE story is how he ended up on the company’s website.

Williams stands in front of TOTE shipping containers wearing a hard hat and green reflective vest.“I was only supposed to escort the photographer to get some shots on the vessel and terminal,” he said. “When the website was rolled out, I received several emails and calls that I was all over it. I was surprised, but it was indeed cool.”

Williams lives with his wife, Jessica, and “fur baby,” Jack, a black lab.

“I’m probably most proud that I married my soulmate,” he said. “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without her love and support. She’s helped me through some rough times, and we have the best time together.”

Williams said he hopes his safety program will be implemented in other terminals across Saltchuk companies.

“My plan is to never let up,” he said. “The terminals may never be perfect, but the only way to find out is to keep trying.”