Confined space entry requires a method of extraction for the entrant if they become incapacitated. Often this requirement is met by erecting a tripod over the entry point.
At ConfinedSpace.com we offer two types of tripods, and people generally choose one or the other depending on how often they will be using them.
The less expensive model is the AK105A 8 ft. tripod. It's great for occasional use, and is lightweight and easy to assemble.
One drawback is that the Protecta AK205AG winch which is made to go with this tripod mounts onto the side of one leg of the tripod and uses the same detent pin that lengthen and shorten the legs. This set-up makes it inconvenient to adjust the legs once the tripod has been set up.
Again, for occasional use, this is something you can deal with. The AK105AG sets up without tools, and is less expensive than the other comparable tripod, the DBI-SALA 8300030.
The 8300030 is heavier than the AK105AG, and is a sturdier piece of equipment. This tripod also requires no tools for set-up, but the winch mounts to a plate on the tripod leg and remains adjustable. It's simply a better solution for mounting, and if you are going to be using the tripod on a regular basis, this is the one you'll want.
Both tripods from pksafety.com are available in kits that have the pulley system and winch included. The 8300030 has a pulley built into the head of the tripod, and a winch that features a break release system for easier descent, and an automatic break.
The AK105AG is included in the Protecta Confined Space Tripod Kit with a snatch block that attaches easily.
Both systems also have specific winches that fit the unit. The less expensive model has a winch that looks quite a bit like the simple crank you might have to pull a boat onto a trailer. When your confined space entrant goes into the space, the person up top needs to unwind the cable from the drum with the crank handle.
The 8300030 tripod kit comes with a Salalift II 8102001 winch that has a braking system and easy release button that lets the entrant descend without the top-side attendant having to crank the handle. Again, this is the kind of system you want if you are going to be using it for confined space entry on a regular basis.
One final note about tripod systems: Use the chain. Each of these tripods come with a chain that attaches to each leg and keeps them from spreading apart in the event of a big fall. If you consider the geometry of the design, the tripod with the chain deployed is incredibly strong, and they really can take 5,000 lbs of weight described in the OSHA standards. But many people just don't use the chain because it can be a trip hazard and isn't always easy to deploy. Do yourself a favor, if you deploy the tripod, make sure to put the chain on the legs.
If you have other tripod or confined space entry questions, please don't hesitate to call us at 1-800-829-9580. Thanks for reading.