Picture worth 1,000 words in ergo program

Workers see visuals of right and wrong practices

If you’re an employee suffering discomfort at work, you can attend hours of detailed ergonomics presentations, but the most valuable time you spend could be the few minutes it takes to see pictures of yourself at work. That’s the contention of Joe Esposito, DC, LD, DABCO, DAAPM, president of the Health Plus Wellness Center in Marietta, GA. As part of his comprehensive workplace ergonomics program, Esposito takes photographs of employees at work and then reviews those photos with them, pointing out correct and incorrect postures and motions.

"The program has actually been in the process of development for the past 20 years," he explains. "Patients would always come in with problems, but I noticed that since the advent of the computer age, they’d present with a whole host of new problems — in the wrists, elbows, and shoulders."

When Esposito would help a given patient, his or her companies would often call and ask him if there were some way he could help the other workers. It was through this process that the program evolved. After the initial referral, Esposito comes out to the work site. "First, I meet with the company and walk around the office with my camera," he notes. "I take pictures of the good things and bad things that are going on. For example, someone might be sitting at their desk and leaning on one hip instead of both hips, or the keyboard is too far away, or the air conditioning vent is blowing directly on the employee, which could cause muscles to spasm."

Esposito finds that when he does corporate workshops the employees like to see themselves. "We also have a generic slide presentation that shows how the spine, muscles, bones, and ligaments work, and cartoon figures of how to set up a computer and a chair," says Esposito. "We talk about how to lift properly. Then, we put in slides of the company and compare what the workers are doing with what they should be doing."

Esposito will do this for specific departments — for example, focusing on proper lifting techniques for shipping and receiving employees.

A holistic approach

Esposito takes a holistic approach to ergonomics. "Ergonomics is not just lifting," he explains. "It’s air conditioning, it’s drinking enough water, it’s fresh air and lighting." His program also incorporates nutrition. "What you put in your body affects how it works," he asserts. Thus, his presentation includes pictures of soda machines. "I explain that when you eat certain things, there are specific reactions on the metabolic level," he says. "I show them some of the better choices available to them."

Exercise is another important component. "We cover the basics, and then we get into a bit of advanced neurological work, such as we do with athletes," he observes. This includes cross/crawl exercises, which, he says, "reboot the brain, after which everything starts to work better." (For more on cross/crawl techniques, see "Self-care program combats worker fatigue" in Occupational Health Management, November 2002, p. 127.)

Initially, many people cannot do the exercises, because their brains are "short-circuited," says Esposito. However, after showing them precisely what to do, "for 30 seconds of exercise you get three hours of good, clean energy."

Esposito has presented his program at pharmaceutical companies, schools, computer programming firms and churches. He recently completed a program with an Atlanta law firm. "They loved it," he reports. "We were asked back two weeks later and doubled the number of people." He says the employees reported having more energy and thinking more clearly. "They told me, No one ever told us how easy it was to correct the problem.’"

For more information, contact:

Joe Esposito, DC, LD, DABCO, DAAPM, Health Plus Wellness Center, 950 Cobb Parkway South, Suite 190, Marietta, GA 30062. Telephone: (770) 427-7387. Fax: (770) 426-1491. Web site: www.drjoeesposito.com.