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Sulphuric acid stored in IRN-BRU bottle left man with horrific scars

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A workman suffered severe burns after his leg was soaked in sulphuric acid which burned through an IRN-BRU bottle.

Mark Mellard, 46, needed two skin grafts after putting the drinks bottle into his pocket unaware that a colleague had filled it with the highly-corrosive liquid.

John Campey had decanted the heavy-duty drain cleaner from its container and left it next to a sink at the DHL Debenhams warehouse at Sherburn Industrial Estate in Selby, North Yorks.

After feeling his leg burning, Mr Mellard removed it and threw it away before rushing to the toilets where he put cold water on his leg.

The pain stopped as his nerve endings were damaged, so Mr Mellard went home and walked the dog before going to hospital where he was treated for severe burns.

Campey pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching Health and Safety regulations and was sentenced to a community punishment order at York and Selby Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Mellard, of Normanton, and Campey, from Castleford, have both lost their jobs since the incident on June 20 last year.

Campey was a representative of the company’s Health and Safety committee and had undergone Care Of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) training.

Mark Monaghan, defending, said the sulphuric acid had only been in use at the facility for a week, replacing a weaker drain cleaner which had been previously used.

Magistrates ordered Campey to carry out 60 hours unpaid work in the community and to pay £300 towards prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

The court heard a civil action was also underway, over the matter of compensation for the injured man.

Mr Mellard, a former dispatch warehouse operative at DHL, said: “They sacked me for attempted theft of chemicals but 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.

“He gave me a bottle but I didn’t know what the substance was inside. He left it on the side for me.

“I was leaving work so I put the bottle in my pocket with my keys.

“As I was walking out of the warehouse, the bottle burst.”

Despite trying desperately to clean the acid from him leg, Mr Mellard was left with severe burns.

He said: “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.

“I drove home wearing the trousers that were covered in acid and then washed them out.”

He spent nearly ten days in hospital, where he spent time in a decontamination room and needed a skin graft.

When Mr Mellard tried to return to work, he says he found himself suspended, without sick pay, before eventually being sacked.

He says he has not seen or heard from Campey since the accident, but doesn’t blame him for what happened.

Almost a year on from the accident, Mr Mellard still has a constant reminder of the injuries he suffered.

He said: “I’m back to see the consultant regularly, It’s a lot better than it was and it will never be the same.”

 
 
 

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