Leaf collector injured in Bobcat accident


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

A Waste Management employee suffered a cracked pelvis last week, in an accident that temporarily shut down Oak Park's leaf collection program for the rest of one day.

Around 9 a.m. Nov. 16, a Waste Management worker was rounding up leaves on the 1000 block of South Clinton using a Bobcat construction vehicle. Meanwhile, another Waste Management employee, Raul Nunez, was chatting with a private contractor who was parked in a pickup truck nearby, said Oak Park Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Wiley.

The Bobcat driver then allegedly backed up and inadvertently pinned Nunez against the driver's side door of the truck, caving the door in 4 to 5 inches according to Wiley.

Still conscious but in "extreme pain," Nunez was transported to Loyola Medical Center with a cracked pelvis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was sent out to investigate the accident, according to Public Works Director John Wielebnicki, and Oak Park's fall leaf collection program was shut down for the rest of the day, resuming on Nov. 17.

Waste Management fell a day behind in its work, but Wielebnicki said they were pretty much back on schedule as of Monday, save for a few piles here and there. Fall leaf collections end next week, on Dec. 2.

"They've advised the village that they'll do everything they can to get caught up this week," Wielebnicki said the day after the accident. "Leaves are pretty heavy right now, and we have a couple weeks left of the program, so it's important that they get caught up."

Waste Management spokesman Bill Plunkett said that Nunez was resting at home Monday evening. The "root cause" of the accident was still under investigation earlier this week.

"Waste Management takes safety issues very seriously and works very hard to avoid circumstances that could lead to the injury of any of our people," Plunkett said.

Reader Comments

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Paddy Boy  

Posted: November 18th, 2010 3:14 PM

Go with the expert - Scott McAdams says it's not a good idea to leave leafs on your lawn, but it is ok to leave them your garden or flower beds. Or just grind them up and sell them to the high school kids.

Marty Stempniak, Journal staff reporter  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 11:15 PM

Debbie, Leaf collections resumed Wednesday morning.

Leftuv Less from oak park  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 10:35 PM

Two comments from Leftuv Less of Oak Park: 1. Put your leaves in a big pile on your lawn: Burn them. It'll smell great and by spring the ashes will be self-enriching. Or pile them around a rusted car in your back yard. 2. OP should hire "leaf police" with savings from laying off real police to inspect every leaf pile in the street for stray branches, bushes, or the heinous blue doggy poop bags.

Debbie Heer from Oak Park  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 9:46 PM

Please keep us informed of this worker's injuries. Willthere will be leaf collection the rest of this week. The only comment in the article was that they would be caught up by the end of the collection season.

Karen from Oak Park  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 9:20 PM

I hope the employee has as speedy a recovery as possible. That must have been painful. Are improved safety measures being put i place?

Les from op  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 6:48 PM

Two comments from Les Golden of Oak Park. 1: Put the leaves on your lawn. Run your mower over them to finely mulch them. Let them stay there; by spring they'll become self-enriching. Or go to KMart and buy a bag of plastic-wrapped fertilizer, literally made from the very leaves you push into the street. 2: OP needs cash? Enforce the "leaf only" ordinance. Bush trimmings, tree limbs etc. are a major part of the "leaf pile" and add to the taxpayer cost while decreasing sticker revenue.

Maggie from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 5:55 PM

Maybe the village could consider purchasing a truck with a large leaf sucking tube and they also shred the leaves. One man could operate the truck and certainly do a better job then Waste Management. Often quite a bit of the leaves are pushed back up on the parkway. This would avoid double work and do a very neat job. We get tired of pushing the leaves back on the street.

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