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OSHA released an interpretation letter stating that construction contractors are allowed to require employees to pay a deposit for company-issued personal protection equipment (PPE) so that it provides an incentive for the employee to return the equipment. Contractors should be aware that this does not circumvent the requirement that employers provide protection equipment at no expense to the workers. 

The letter also stated that an employer may require a worker to return the equipment at the end of his or her employment and can require the employee to pay for the equipment if it is not returned and can take reasonable steps to retrieve the PPE in a manner that does not conflict with federal, state or local laws. However, the employer is not allowed to charge for wear and tear to equipment that is related to the job.

The letter seeks to clarify the requirements of the 2007 final rule, Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment (72 Fed. Reg. 64,342; 220 DLR A-1, 11/15/07), concerning whether deposits are allowed and other measures employers can take to ensure company-provided gear is returned when a worker leaves the company.