Are you bothered by one of those sometimes nettlesome Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations? It might be worthwhile to pull out the rule book and read the regulation again. If it uses the word "should" instead of "shall," it may soon be invalid.

The Reagan Administration proposes to scrap 194 regulations containing the word "should," which, unlike "shall" or "must," does not carry the full force of the law These regulations appear in such categories as: guarding of floor and wall openings and holes, use of ladders, ventilation, signs and tags designed for accident prevention, storage and handling of materials, use of machinery and machine guards, and use of hand and portable power tools and other hand-held equipment.

For example, one regulation concerning portable metal ladders says that "hardware fittings and accessories should be checked frequently," and that "ropes or cables should be inspected frequently and replaced if defective." These regulations would be thrown out, although another section stating that "Ladders must be maintained in good usable condition at all times" would remain.

Many of the 194 regulations were adopted from industry standards developed over the years by organizations such as the American National Standards Institute and the National Fire Protection Association. These rules were originally advisory in nature, which is why they used the term "should." Generally they have not been upheld in court challenges over the years according to OSHA officials. "The reason we're revoking them is that they are unenforceable anyway," an OSHA spokesman said.

The agency will review public comments before dropping or modifying the regulations officially. "Where necessary," it plans to issue replacement standards that use the word "shall," the spokesman said. But that review process, he adds, could take years.