Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Workplace Health and Safety Information—Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

Acceptance and Use of Mobile Apps for Commercial Fishing Safety

FV Drills App SCraMP App


Smartphone technology provides opportunities for developing innovative safety interventions to protect workers in some of the most hazardous occupations. Commercial fishing workers hold one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, facing a risk of death 23 times greater than the average worker.1 Preventing commercial fishing fatalities from vessel disasters and falls overboard is imperative. Two mobile apps have been developed to bring potentially life-saving tools into the hands of any fishing vessel operator with a suitable smartphone or tablet:

  • The Small Craft Motion Program (SCraMP)
    • Provides real-time vessel motion monitoring data, giving the captain early warning of vessel instability and allowing corrective actions to be taken before capsizing occurs.
  • The Fishing Vessel Drills (FVdrills)
    • designed to facilitate conducting safety drills by providing drill checklists, dynamic drill scenarios, electronic logs, and reminders.

While such apps hold enormous potential, they will only improve safety if they are accepted and used by fishing vessel operators. In preliminary testing of both apps on land, testers rated many features of each app as useful, but some were uncertain about the utility of the apps at sea or the likelihood of using the apps.2,3 Therefore, an assessment of the acceptability and utility of these apps during actual commercial fishing operations is needed. The long-term goal of this proposal is to ensure that affordable, innovative, evidence-based safety interventions are available to address the major causes of vessel disasters and fatalities in the commercial fishing industry. The objective of this project is to determine the acceptability and utility of two mobile apps—ScraMP and FVdrills—and the impact of these apps on factors related to safety practices during commercial fishing operations. The central hypothesis is that acceptance and use of each app will vary by perceived utility and ease of use of the app, as well as operator age and experience. Furthermore, use of the apps is expected to positively influence factors that increase the likelihood of monitoring vessel stabilityand conducting safety drills. This hypothesis is supported by the Health Belief Model (HBM) as applied to injury problems4 and the Extended Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT2) model.5 According to the HBM, the SCraMP app is expected to reduce barriers such as cost of equipment and provide cues to action through alerts. The FVdrills app is expected to reduce barriers to conducting drills by making drills easier to conduct. By guiding the drill conductor through the exercise, FVdrills provides cues to action and may increase the drill conductor's self-efficacy. Although the apps address key barriers and facilitators, they will only influence safety practices if they are used. According to the UTAUT2 model, technology use is determined by performance expectancy (perceived usefulness and benefit), effort expectancy (ease of use), social influence, facilitating conditions (available resources and support), hedonic motivation (enjoyment), price value (cost), and habit. Effects of these factors may be moderated by gender, age, and experience.

Specific Aims

Aim #1- Determine the acceptability of the SCraMP and FVdrills mobile apps among commercial fishing vessel operators and identify the factors that most influence acceptance and use of the apps.

Aim #2- Determine the impact of SCraMP and FVdrills use on monitoring vessel stability, conducting safety drills, and factors predicted by the Health Belief Model to influence these safety practices.

NORA priorities addressed

Strategic goal 8 – fishing safety

Research Team 

Maria Bulzacchelli, PhD with Johns Hopkins University

Jennifer Whitehall, PhD with UMASS Amherst


Jerry Dzugan with Alaska Marine Safety Education Association

Leigh McCue-Weil, PhD with George Mason University, Volgenau School of Engineering