Authorities investigate what police called an accidental death on Monday in Burbank.

Authorities investigate what police called an accidental death on Monday in Burbank. (Ross A. Benson / June 5, 2012)

California workplace safety officials are investigating the death of a worker who was accidentally crushed in Burbank last week after becoming trapped in the bottom-dump doors of a gravel truck.

The death of the worker, 58-year-old Vigen Boodaghian, was caused by “mechanical asphyxiation,” said Los Angeles County coroner spokesman Ed Winter, who added that there were “compression injuries to the torso.”

The accident occurred about 10 a.m. on Memorial Day at a lot leased by a construction company on Magnolia Boulevard, west of Front Street, near the Golden State (5) Freeway, police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said.

Boodaghian was extricated by a truck driver before emergency responders arrived and was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

Boodaghian was apparently cleaning the bottom of the dump truck when the gates closed and crushed him, according to the coroner’s office.

Ryburn said police were told gravel trucks pay a fee to park in that area, but he did not have information on the owner of the area.

“Owners of commercial vehicles are trying to find places to park, whether it is a fenced-in area or an empty, open lot,” Ryburn said.

Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford said the accident did not involve a city public works project that she was aware of, nor did a representative for the California Department of Transportation, which has embarked on heavy construction along the Golden State (5) Freeway corridor.

Officials from the Van Nuys office of Cal/OSHA, the agency responsible for enforcing state workplace safety regulations, is investigating the accident, said spokesman Peter Melton.

The investigation was still in its infancy, he added, so “we don’t know much.”

It was not immediately clear what the lot was being used for, or what Boodaghian’s job description was.

“Were they doing things the way they were supposed to, [were they] not following safe practices? There are all kinds of different things that can go wrong,” Melton said.

If Cal/OSHA determines that an employer violates workplace safety regulations, the agency has the authority to impose fines and corrective orders.

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News

Twitter: @mariahsin