A new survey found that healthcare providers and administrators want more waste management training and resources.

The survey was conducted by Stericycle, a provider of medical waste management, and reached 500 healthcare workers, of whom 350 are clinicians and 150 are administrators. The findings were introduced Stericycle’s first report on occupational health and safety.

More than half of providers and administrators believe their organization should devote more effort and money to biohazard waste management. Improperly disposed of waste can lead to feelings of burnout and stress, undermining providers’ sense of security in the workplace, the survey found.

The vast majority also believe that COVID-19 has made pharmaceutical management more difficult, particularly in home settings where there is an increased risk of drug diversion. More than a third of providers working in home care settings said they lack adequate tools to properly dispose of biohazardous waste. Most providers (more than 50%) also believe that improper disposal of pharmaceutical waste was a major contributor to the opioid crisis and believe this has worsened during the pandemic.

“One of our biggest challenges is the lack of knowledge among caregivers about where and how waste is disposed of. Especially with the significant number of traveling nurses, many are unfamiliar with our local disposal protocols,” an environmental safety and materials management expert at a leading nonprofit healthcare system was quoted in the report as saying.

While 3 in 4 administrators think their organization is doing enough to reduce their environmental footprint through waste management, just over half of providers agree. While 71% of administrators say their organization has explicit sustainability goals, just over half of vendors agree.

CONNECTED: ‘There can be no healthy people on a sick planet’: How healthcare is correcting its role in climate change

“Our findings underscore that healthcare providers and administrators understand how the health and safety of a care environment impacts patient care,” said Cory White, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Stericycle. it says in a press release. “It is clear that the management of medical waste is critical to creating a safe and efficient care environment for medical staff and the health and well-being of patients.”

Stericycle recommends that to mitigate the challenges providers face, organizations must invest in improving the health and safety of their environments through effective waste management and increased training opportunities. Organizations should also consider their waste management partners and prioritize those that reduce the burden on providers. They may also consider communicating their environmental sustainability goals company-wide so that all employees can contribute to these efforts.