Orange County Waste & Recycling Uses GoCanvas to Make a Dangerous Job Safer—While Saving Weeks of Wasted Time

By GoCanvas Team on April 11, 2023

Orange County Waste & Recycling Company Overview
Orange County Waste and Recycling handles all municipal waste collection and processing in a county of over 3 million people. Heavy machinery is the backbone of what they do, with 10 to 15 large machines running at multiple locations every day, resulting in over 15,000 inspections over just a couple of years. With employees numbering in the thousands, OCWR has a huge responsibility to both its community and workforce to keep its processes timely, organized, and safe.

Jeff Southern, Safety Culture Deputy Director at OCWR, had overseen the growth of the business over his 34 years of experience. As Deputy Director, Jeff is responsible for developing safe, standardized work practices and identifying workflow issues that could impact safety and efficiency. Jeff realized that OCWR was losing entire workdays verifying data through pen-and-paper processes and updating analytics dashboards manually.

Originally, Jeff engaged GoCanvas as a means of “removing paper, clipboards, and pens from the field to move to a digital workspace,” but eventually found that these expansive digital datasets could be leveraged to show other inefficiencies as the company grew. OCWR now depends on GoCanvas to manage equipment inspections, enforce compliance with training logs and near-miss reports, and keep employees safe.                    

The Background
When GoCanvas started working with OCWR in 2019, Waste & Recycling was the fifth most dangerous industry in the United States. With thousands of employees operating heavy machinery at multiple landfill sites across Orange County, OCWR depends on accurate, timely data to keep its crews safe. Some of the forms and datasets integral to OCWR’s workflow include:

  • SPOT (Safety Performance Observation Talks) Checks
  • Near-miss reporting
  • Equipment Inspections
  • Equipment Training Logs

The Problem
As OCWR has grown over the years, increasingly important and complex tasks were still managed with pen-and-paper forms that needed to be filled out, scanned, emailed, and manually entered into rudimentary analytics programs. OCWR was losing hundreds of work hours per year manually verifying data and working to standardize mission-critical operating procedures. Using Excel and inferior business insight tools, OCWR was experiencing:

  • Labor-intensive data consolidation periods of up to 8 hours per week.
  • Multi-day turnarounds for critical inspection paperwork.
  • Outdated accident and near-miss reporting leaving crew members vulnerable while information from the field was interpreted and cataloged.
  • Static datasets that needed constant oversight, obscuring existing inefficiencies instead of presenting proactive solutions.

Without dynamic ways to input and track data, OCWR was spending entire workdays simply wrestling with paperwork. As a result, processes intended to keep their crews in the field safe were presenting added clerical problems, keeping staff busy while adding little valuable insight into their workflow.

The Solution: A revamped workflow and new opportunities for data management from GoCanvas

Jeff and his team took the first step in getting control of their workflow by reaching out to GoCanvas to help eliminate paper forms and adopt a digital format. What started as a simple goal to go paperless, however, soon lent itself to more in-depth analysis—and potential opportunities to cut out time-wasting processes completely.

  • Customized Forms

The initial changes focused on replacing digitizing their existing forms, populating them with relevant inputs like lists, specific verbiage, etc. As an administrator, Jeff designed many of these forms for ease of use by his team members in the field, including options like simple drop-downs to pre-populate standardized information.

  • Automated Data Management

As OCWR began to adopt the new forms, Jeff soon realized they were sitting on a mountain of internal data that could be organized and displayed in ways that simply weren’t possible before. Instead of hours spent filling out, transporting, and verifying paper forms by hand, data integration tools from GoCanvas meant that OCWR could monitor and leverage crucial business insights as fast as it took to for any of their team members to submit a form, no matter where they were. 

  • Real-time Insights

With real-time analytics dashboards, OCWR began to implement new processes like employee training logs that display levels of compliance in a simple percentage, and high-visibility graphics detailing threats to worker safety by priority. Suddenly, the data that OCWR used to spend hours simply verifying was providing new, proactive ways to work quicker, safer, and smarter.    


Using GoCanvas, OCWR now has datasets that actually work for them, resulting in:

  • Approximately 8 hours per week (10.4 work weeks per year) saved without the need to manually verify data. 
  • Real-time oversight of equipment inspections—changing what used to be a 2-day turnaround time to one that’s instantaneous.
  • Employee-specific training logs that reliably count hours trained on each piece of equipment for increased accountability and a straightforward competency progression.
  • Standardized SPOT checks that account for site-specific safety protocols and connect field crews with the main office instantly.

“The original push was to get rid of paper and go digital. What we learned through this process is that we can generate a data set that helps us identify struggles and areas of improvement in our business.”

Jeff Southern, Safety Culture Deputy Director at OCWR

OCWR now depends on GoCanvas’ Custom Form Builder and Analytics as the basis for their new workflow. Jeff and his team consider their biggest wins to be reformatting their most complex forms into an auto-populated digital format and addressing more safety concerns before they can cause accidents. Crucially, Jeff also credits GoCanvas for more efficient SPOT checks and near-miss reports to move the needle on overall workplace safety. 

Ready to Rethink How You Work?

OCWR’s story is unique—but its problems aren’t. GoCanvas has helped a variety of businesses across multiple industries transform their safety processes and rethink their efficiency, ultimately saving them money. Why not do the same? Reach out to one of our experts today to kickstart your process revolution.