There are plenty of companies out there who only do the occasional confined space entry. Their definition of the best tripod will likely be very different from a company, utility, or facility that uses their tripod on a daily or weekly basis. For the first type of buyer, they likely just want something that meets OSHA requirements. They want something they know is going to be safe, and they aren't looking for all the bells and whistles because it's mostly sitting in the shed out back. These folks need to be able to pass inspection when they do perform their work if OSHA shows up. For this group, we'd recommend a simple Protecta 8 ft. Tripod AK105A. This sturdy aluminum tripod retracts fully for easy storing and deploys quickly.
The AK105A isn't the easiest to set up, and it's not the most versatile. But if you need to descend into a PRCS to check pumps or other equipment on a quarterly basis, then this is going to be just fine. It is strong enough for you to be able to extricate an incapacitated worker if the need arises, and as long as the rest of your set-up passes muster, it's all you'll need for an OSHA inspection.
If you're looking for all of the equipment in one shot, the Protecta 8 ft. tripod is included in the Protecta Tripod Kit which also comes with a man-rated winch and mounting bracket, 50 ft. of 3/8 in. galvanized steel cable, and a snatch block pulley to guide the wire down the middle of your confined space opening.
If you're required to enter confined spaces regularly, this probably isn't the system for you, and here's why. It's not bad, but there are tripods that are easier to set up, and winch attachment systems that allow for more adjustment. Furthermore, the man-rated winch in the kit is only good for lifting a person, and isn't rated for raising and lowering equipment. A more robust option is the DBI-SALA 7 ft. Confined Space Tripod and Winch Combo. This system also meets OSHA requirements, but is a big step up in terms of durability and ergonomics.
The Salalift II Retrieval Winch is a work horse that can be used to move up to 350 lbs. of equipment, or it can support a total combined weight of a worker with his tools of up to 310 lbs. It also has a freewheel setting which allows for much easier descent if the CS entrant is climbing down. A quick flip of a switch changes the winch back into retrieval mode.
If you know how often you're going to be required to perform confined space entry, you're on your way to answering our initial question of which tripod and confined space entry kit is best for you. Of course if money is no object, you probably aren't reading this post. But for the majority of companies, they want the best equipment for the type of work they are doing at the best price. If you'd like more information, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580 or chat with us online at www.pksafety.com.