Ebola and Real Estate

The recent Ebola news, as well as the seasonal threat of colds and flu, presents unique challenges to the Real Estate and Property Management business.  Communicable diseases are spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids.  As such, personal health habits of employees are the first- and most important defense against these diseases.

Emphasize to your employees the need for frequent – and thorough – hand washing.  While gel hand sanitizers are convenient, they are not a substitute for soap and water, and should only to be used as a stopgap until soap and water are available. 

In addition to frequent and thorough hand-washing, property managers should reinforce the following best practices among their housekeeping and maintenance staff.  These employees should:

  • Wear disposable, non-latex gloves when cleaning common areas, such as lobbies, elevators, and fitness centers 
  • Wash hands after removing gloves
  • Wash hands before eating, smoking, or applying cosmetics
  • Avoid touching one’s face and eyes until after hands are washed
  • Wash any towels or linens at maximum cycle length
  • Avoid reusing disposable gloves

Universal precautions with respect to blood and bodily fluids should also be reinforced.  Make sure that protocol is communicated for:

  • Disposal of needles left in rest rooms or other areas
  • Disposal of broken glass and razor blades
  • Reporting the existence of blood spills
  • Correct clean-up procedures
  • Training of personnel to clean-up blood and bodily fluids
  • Availability of clean-up kits and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (gloves, face shields, goggles)

In order to prevent the spread of germs, items commonly used by multiple guests – such as computer keyboards, railings, and elevator buttons – should be routinely disinfected.  In addition, the cleaning and sanitizing of fitness equipment and exercise rooms, pools, and hot tubs should be especially diligent.

Human Resources should communicate information on infection control, hygiene, and the responsibility of employees to call off sick when they experience flu-like symptoms.

Finally, the recent case of the Dallas-area nurses who contracted Ebola (after caring for a patient diagnosed with Ebola) is an example of the need for a well planned and executed communication strategy to ensure that tenants are effectively informed of the actions taken to ensure their safety. 

For more information, please contact Risk Consultant Anne Jackson at ajackson@rcmd.com.

Additional RCM&D Blogs:



General Industry


Long-Term Care

External Links:


How to Hand Wash

Sequence for Putting on Personal Protective Equipment