Ford of Europe Gets Happy

Comfortable employees can lead to better quality cars.

While some people (who probably sit at desks) might find the idea of people “sitting on the job” to be outrageous, especially when the job in question is on an assembly line, Ford of Europe organized a group of occupational physicians, production specialists, labor groups, and representatives for disabled employees and came up with a swivel chair for use on the assembly lines of its plants.

And it is called the “Happy Seat.”

Says Eilis Carey, a senior ergonomist for Ford of Europe, “It’s called the Happy Seat for a good reason—it makes a tough job easier for workers in our plants. Operations which previously required awkward postures to be maintained for prolonged periods can now be performed in a seated position with adequate lumbar support.”

They’ve devised seats for applications ranging from the C-MAX crossover being built in Valencia, Spain, to the Fiesta subcompact in Cologne, Germany.

As Martin Chapman, operations plant manager in Cologne, notes, “Employees just push themselves back and forth and the chair swings in and out of the cabin—very simply and not requiring much physical effort. And the back feels fine, allowing employees to remain in employment longer to the benefit of Ford—ideally until they reach the age of retirement, the age of which many European governments have raised only recently.”

Yes, not only is it an industrial issue, but a social one, too.