There are so many answers to that simple question. One answer might be the cheapest, but that one likely won't be the safest. Far from it. And if you happen to have the pleasure of entertaining an OSHA inspector on your jobsite, it certainly won't end up being inexpensive in the long run.
Completing your work without someone getting injured should always be a priority. No job is worth having someone hurt or killed. Some crews might say it depends on the worker, but we're a safety company and prefer everyone to be protected equally.
A good tripod for many companies is simply one that meets OSHA requirements. No need for bells and whistles because it's mostly sitting in storage. That's fine. We understand there are lots of folks out there who don't do regular confined space entry, but nevertheless need to be able to pass inspection when they do perform that type of work. 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.
For companies looking for an all-in-one solution, the Protecta 8 ft. tripod is included in the Protecta Tripod Kit which also features 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 from the apex of the tripod down the middle of your confined space opening.
This type of set-up is not ideal for folks required to enter confined spaces regularly. It's not bad, but there are tripods that are easier to set up, and winches that are more robust and allow for raising and lowering equipment as well as workers. For regular confined space entry teams, we'd recommend the DBI-SALA 7 ft. Confined Space Tripod and Winch Combo. This system also meets all applicable OSHA standards, but is an upgrade both in terms of hardware as well as ease of use and durability.
The Salalift II Retrieval Winch in the DBI-SALA Combo 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 PKSafety.com.