Often referred to as just Zim, Zim Integrated Shipping Services is the largest shipping company based in Israel and the tenth largest shipping company in the world. It has its headquarters in Haifa, Israel and Norfolk, Virginia. Zim was founded in 1945 and grew quickly into a major world shipping company. The company operates in more than 120 countries and offers a range of shipping and shipping-related services at major ports and along the major global trade routes.
Zim has a corporate policy of making safety a high priority, and yet shipping is inherently dangerous. Large container and other shipping vessels may run aground, collide with each other, and even be attacked by pirates. Any of these, and other types of incidents, can cause workers to be injured. If they are, they have a right to a certain level of compensation thanks to maritime law.
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Zim is one of the largest shipping companies in the world with a turnover of nearly $3 billion in 2015 and over 2,000,000 TEUs of cargo carried around the world that year. The Zim fleet is made up of 80 vessels with a total capacity of 344,000 TEU. The company makes calls at 180 ports around the world and operates from ten international hubs. Weekly and fixed day routes include over 70 service lines. The company employs over 4,200 people and 170 offices in more than 100 countries, including a strong presence in China.
The Jewish Agency, Israel Maritime League, and Histadrut Labor Federation came together in 1945 to found Zim. The company’s first ship, which was purchased in 1947, was the Kedmah. Some of the ships in the early fleet were used to transport European immigrants to the newly-founded state of Israel. They also carried supplies to the fledgling country as it struggled with the War of Independence.
From the early 1950s on, the company was able to focus on expanding as a shipping service. Zim acquired several new vessels for its feet, including passenger ships, container ships, and bulk carriers. By the late 1960s the company had abandoned passenger service to focus solely on the transport of goods, cargo, and containers.
Zim really took off in the 1970s as it grew its container service. In 1972 it began an innovative new service that scheduled a 100-day voyage to hit three different continents and ports in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. In the 1990s Zim expanded again with 15 ships, all built new for the company.
Over the years since its founding, Zim became more and more privatized until by 1999 the government of Israel no longer had any stake in the company. Over the years the exact name of the company has changed, but has always begun with the word Zim, which comes from the book of Numbers. The passage refers to a Zim as a large vessel.
Zim’s operations truly cover the globe with several regular routes traveled, hundreds of ports visited, and multiple international hubs and offices for logistics. Prominent routes include those that go between Southeast Asia and Africa, between Israel and Northern Europe, between the Mediterranean and North and South America, and Africa, as well as trans-Atlantic, and trans-Pacific routes.
The operations for Zim include services that ship all kinds of cargo. From typical container cargo to specialized cargo, the company covers it all: refrigerated cargo and containers, dangerous cargo, and large, heavy cargo. The company also offers logistic services connecting shipping port to port to getting cargo from door to door. Zim operations also include 24-hour monitoring of cargo.
Zim has safety policies on the books to put an emphasis on the safety of workers, the environment, and the protection of cargo. Occupational safety, according to these policies, is Zim’s leading priority. The company claims to adhere to the highest standards for maritime operations and safety and ensures that its vessels all comply with international safety regulations. Regular safety training is mandatory for all employees. Accidents and injuries are monitored with a goal of having zero fatalities. That goal was met for 2015.
In spite of strong safety policies, things can go wrong at any time in maritime work. Zim employees, like all others of maritime companies, are at risk on a daily basis, especially those that work out at sea on the large vessels in the fleet. These workers are vulnerable to accidents like collisions and groundings, but also to onboard incidents like fires, falls, and being struck by cargo or machinery. Any accident can lead to minor injuries, major injuries, and even deaths of workers.
One of Zims more recent incidents was a collision that occurred on the Mississippi River in 2010. The Zim Mexico III was navigating up the river, while ship was navigating in the opposite direction. The two ships collided and an investigation found that the workers operating both ships failed to see there was a problem until seconds before the collision occurred. Most of the blame was put on the operator of the other ship, which demonstrates that even when worker are well-trained, those that are not can put them at risk. In this particular incident it was the other ship, the Lee III that suffered more. The ship partially sank and five crew members died.
In another incident, which occurred in 2005, a Zim vessel caused a terrible accident. The accident occurred in the waters of northern Japan. The Zim Asia hit a Japanese fishing boat resulting in the deaths of seven men aboard it. The Zim officer that was on duty at the time claimed not to have seen any radar signs of the boat, and he decided not to wake the sleeping captain. They were not found to be negligent, but they were criticized for not rescuing the fishermen.
In 2014 Zim faced yet another unusual incident when a container ship was attacked by pirates in the middle of the ocean. The incident occurred when the Africa Star was on its way back to Israel from Southeast Asia. Pirates fired on the ship, but security guards aboard it were able to fire back and repel the attack. No one was hurt.
Accidents and Maritime Law
Maritime workers always face dangers on the job, but they also have protection in the form of maritime law. These workers can call on the law to seek compensation in the wake of an accident that causes injury or illness. Their dependents can also make use of these rights when an accident is fatal. Compensation is important because it helps maritime workers and their families cover lost wages and pay medical bills. If you are injured on a maritime job, you can consult with a professional maritime lawyer to seek your rights under the law.