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Farmer health

3-minute read

Farmers and their families often face many more physical risks than other people and they are at also at increased risk of depression and anxiety. Safety and staying healthy are therefore especially important for those who work on farms.

Injuries on farms

Agriculture has the highest fatality rate of any industry in Australia. Every year, thousands of people are injured or become ill and need to go to hospital because of working on a farm.

This is because there are many hazards on farms such as vehicles, chemicals, large farm animals and extreme weather conditions. Farmers often work alone in remote locations without mobile phone coverage or access to first aid.

Vehicle accidents cause more than 3 in 4 deaths on farms. The most common cause of injury on farms is quad bikes, but farmers may also be injured driving on rural roads or in aircraft. Injuries can also be caused by:

  • agricultural machinery like tractors and harvesters
  • snakes, ticks and venomous spiders
  • dams and creeks
  • electrical fencing
  • fire and flood
  • rifles and guns

Staying healthy as a farmer

Avoiding accidents is an important part of farming. This includes learning how to:

Staying physically fit is important. The National Centre for Farmer Health has information about staying fit on the farm.

Mental health on farms

The pressures of farming, together with its isolation, mean that farmers are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than other people. Rural farming communities are at greater risk of suicide than most other Australians.

Farmers’ mental health may be affected by:

  • the pressures of running a farming business
  • natural disasters like draught, floods and bushfires
  • changing legislation
  • changing market conditions
  • difficulty finding and keeping good workers
  • isolation
  • family problems

Farmers are often good at helping others but not so good at seeking help for themselves. It can be hard to access mental health support if you are living on a farm.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing depression or anxiety, then it’s important to get help. Talk to friends, other farmers, a doctor or someone at Beyond Blue’s support service. There is a range of online mental health resources available on the Head to Health website.

The healthdirect website has more information on rural and mental health. AgHealth Australia has also produced a useful booklet to help you identify and manage the stress of farming.

Access to medical services and treatment

Accessing health services and treatment in remote and rural areas can often be difficult. Find out here about rural and remote health and services in your state or territory.

If you are concerned about any symptoms, use healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to find out what to do next. You can also find the nearest health services to you using healthdirect’s service finder.

More information on farmer health

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2020


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