Peter Black, 46, a machine driver, was in hospital for 10 weeks after molten metal and slag splashed over him, burning his head, body and arms, at Scunthorpe steelworks in July 1989. He had to undergo 11 operations, including plastic surgery, but has been left permanently disfigured. He also has difficulty walking and will never work again.
The award of pounds 512,000 against Appleby Slag Reduction Ltd and British Steel is believed to be a record for an industrial accident.
Mr Black, who is married with a 15-year-old daughter, said the money would never compensate him. "I used to be the life and soul of the party, but I'm a different person now - short tempered, nervous and nasty." He said the past seven years had been a "nightmare". "The money is nice, but it can never make up for what has happened. It's not like winning the pools - I can't even jump up and down to celebrate."
Mr Black's case was taken up by the GMB general union. Regional secretary Steve Pickering said: "This was a horrific accident and Mr Black's life has been blighted. The court ruled that the employers were negligent in the way they managed the plant and that the accident, like most industrial accidents, could have been avoided."
The claim for compensation was originally taken to the High Court, but was delayed because the employers' side appealed.
A spokesman for Appleby Slag Reduction Ltd said its involvement was "very minor".