Cold and flu season is ramping up and the news of Ebola is all over the media. Infection control is definitely top of mind.

Ebola is nothing to joke about, but I can’t help but wonder if this is the infection du jour. In recent years it was C.diff, and before that MRSA, swine flu and bird flu. And don’t forget about old reliable, influenza A. It seems like there is always a new infection threat rearing its ugly head in the media, but what does it mean to custodial departments?

It has been reported in the national media that the staff working in that Texas hospital where the first Ebola case was revealed were not properly trained or equipped with an effective infection prevention program. And without an up-to-date program in place, Ebola spread and outbreak followed.

To a custodial manager, the infection shouldn’t matter, the importance of cleaning is the same and prevention is key. Custodial departments must be ready for any type of outbreak because the infection prevention program in place can mean life or death for building occupants and workers.

A good manager will have proper products on hand to fight viruses and bacteria, but a great manager re-evaluates their cleaning program regularly to make sure the team is ready to keep germs at bay. Not only should departments maintain stock of proper cleaning chemicals and disinfectants, but they should also provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff working around building occupants. Managers should also make sure programs are up-to-date and all staff are trained on reacting to an outbreak. Having an effective plan and a staff that can execute that plan properly will determine whether or not viruses — no matter what the infection threat is — can be contained.

To help managers develop a proper infection preparedness plan, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have outlined recommendations for preventing the spread of infections. For tips from the CDC on how to treat infected patients, as well as cleaning and training techniques, visit OSHA’s newly issued guidelines for cleaning and decontamination of surfaces for workers and employees can be found at