A WAREHOUSE worker who suffered horrific acid burns has told how he has been unable to work since the incident.

Mark Mellard claims he was sacked as a result of suffering severe burns when an Irn-Bru bottle filled with sulphuric acid exploded in his pocket.

Mr Mellard, a former dispatch warehouse operative at DHL in Sherburn Industrial Estate, said he had been sacked for attempted theft of chemicals, following the incident last June.

A spokeswoman for DHL said she could not comment on an individual case, but said: "The safety and wellbeing of our employees is paramount to the company and we adhere to stringent Health & Safety procedures across all our operations."

Mr Mellard said: “I never stole anything. I was given it.

“I asked my colleague what he was doing and he said he was clearing a drain. I had a blocked drain at home so I asked him if I could have some of the drain cleaner he was using.”

Mr Mellard said he did not know what was inside the bottle, which he claims was left next to a sink at the warehouse, and put it in his pocket with his keys as he left work when he felt a burning sensation.

He said: “As I was walking out of the warehouse, the bottle burst.

“I tried cleaning my leg but all I could feel was a burning sensation. I had no idea what it was so I didn't think it would be that bad. If I'd have known, I wouldn't have put my trousers back on but I did, which must have made it worse.”

Mr Mellard, of Normanton, West Yorkshire, spent almost ten days in hospital, including time in a decontamination room, and underwent a skin graft for the massive wound to his left thigh.

He said: “They gave me a spinal anaesthetic so I actually watched the whole thing.

“I was sent home ten days later but I had to keep going back to have the dressings changed. Part of the skin grafts didn't take so I had another one about a month later.”

Mr Mellard tried to return to work a month after he left hospital, but was suspended without sick pay.

He said: “They also said I had breached the handling of chemicals but I was never trained in that any way so I couldn't have breached it.”

Mr Mellard said he did not blame John Campey, who admitted breaching health and safety regulations before York and Selby Magistrates’ Court last week but denied supplying the chemical to Mr Mellard, for the incident, but said he would have to live with the injury.

He said: “It's a lot better than it was and it will never be the same.

“I'm scarred for life. It still causes me pain and it's always very itchy. It's just something I have to live with.”