John D. Surma: Lawyer with Adams and Reese LLP

John D. Surma

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Special Counsel, Labor and Employment
Houston,  TX  U.S.A.

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Practice Areas

  • OSHA
  • Labor and Employment
  • Aerospace / Aviation
  • Construction
  • Energy
  • Environmental
  • Litigation
  • Oil / Gas
  • Products Liability
  • Agriculture
  • Defense
  • Manufacturing
University Wisconsin-Platteville, B.S., 1992
Law SchoolWisconsin Law School, J.D., 1994
Admitted1995, Wisconsin; 2001, Texas; United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas; United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas; United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Professional Memberships / Affiliations

American Bar Association - Section of Labor and Employment, Occupational Safety and Health Law Committee

Defense Research Institute

Texas Bar Association

Houston Bar Association

Texas Association of Defense Counsel

Wisconsin Bar Association


John D. Surma joined Adams and Reese in 2011 as Special Counsel in the firm's Houston office. John counsels and represents clients before a variety of regulatory agencies including OSHA, MSHA, the United States Chemical Safety Board, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Railroad Administration/American Association of Railroads, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The services that John provides to his clients include:
•Serving as an expert in the interpretation and application of OSHA standards;
•Reviewing and developing compliance programs;
•Auditing compliance programs and counseling clients concerning deficiencies;
•Consulting with clients concerning regulations and applicability to their businesses;
•Assisting clients with permitting issues;
•Preparing clients for regulatory inspections;
•Representing clients in regulatory inspections;
•Assisting clients in regulatory inspections arising out of catastrophic incidents; and
•Representing clients in regulatory actions.

In conjunction with the regulatory aspects of his practice, John provides clients with advice related to risk management and workplace safety and security.

In addition to his regulatory practice, John performs investigations into catastrophic incidents causing injury and death. He has investigated a wide-range of catastrophes including: plant and refinery explosions and fires; construction accidents; trucking accidents; pipeline accidents; mechanical equipment failures; safety program failures; equipment operation errors; electrical safety failures; chemical releases; and structural failures. He is often retained to represent his clients in both the regulatory and civil litigation that follows.

His clients include aviation companies, refiners, chemical companies, manufacturing companies, construction companies, engineering firms, transportation companies, industrial service companies and nuclear energy companies. He represents clients throughout the country in his regulatory practice. He serves as General Counsel for several entities.

John is admitted to practice in both Texas and Wisconsin. In Texas, he practices in front of all Texas State Courts, the Southern District Federal Court of Texas and the Eastern District Federal Court of Texas. In Wisconsin, he is licensed to appear before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, all Wisconsin Circuit Courts and the Eastern and Western District Federal Courts. He is also licensed to appear before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the legal industry, John is an active member of the Defense Research Institute, the Texas Association of Defense Counsel, and the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law Occupational Safety and Health Committee.

John earned his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1994 and his B.S., summa cum laude, from University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1992.

John is a life member of many conservation organizations, including the Coastal Conservation Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Whitetails Unlimited, the Mule Deer Federation, the Boone and Crockett Club, the Ruffed Grouse Society, Quail Forever, and Pheasants Forever.


Top Lawyers in Labor and Employment Law, H Texas Magazine, 2013, 2014

Articles / Publications

Three OSHA Rule Changes all Employers Need to Be Aware in 2015 - DRI

What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been (OSHA's new rules and the strange ways they work) - EHS Today

A Prairie Farm Companion (Or What Can Go Wrong With I've Got a Pen and I've Got a Phone)

I've Got a Pen and I've Got a Phone

OSHA Releases New Tools For Hospital Safety

Proposed New Rules Relative to Silica Dust Exposure in the Workplace - DRI, The Critical Path

Press Releases

OSHA Attorneys Join Adams and Reese Houston Office

Media Mentions

Surma Interviewed on OSHA Citations Issued Against Ohio Employer Formed Fiber Technologies

Surma Interviewed in Article on OSHA Citations Against Sterling Shipyard

OSHA Attorney John Surma Interviewed About New Workplace Safety Requirements


OSHA Update to ASSE Sabine Neches Chapter - Insight on New Rules and Rule Changes And a “Stealth Rule” expected to be effective in August, 2015

2015 OSHA Changes - IHI E&C International Corporation

OSHA Update - ASSE Sabine Neches Chapter

“OSHA Update: A Discussion About Two New Game-Changing Rule Changes Effective January 1, 2015” - Houston Bar Association Construction Law Section Luncheon Meeting

Newsletters / Alerts

OSHA Targets Workplace Violence

OSHA Issues New Guidance for Healthcare Entities

OSHA Issues New Definition for Whistleblower Activity

OSHA Announces New Rules for Confined Spaces (Effective August 3, 2015)

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling that Could Radically Change Employee Discipline

OSHA's Recordkeeping Rules Now Apply to Real Estate Industry Sectors

Three OSHA Rule Changes all Employers Need to Be Aware of Heading Into 2015

New Recordkeeping Rule from OSHA is a Game Changer

OSHA Issues New Injury Reporting Rules

The Latest On OSHA's Attempts to Protect Whistleblowers

Six Spring OSHA Construction Updates

OSHA Comments on Distracted Driving Initiative

OSHA, the New Fracking Sheriff in Town

OSHA Bulletin: Union Organizing's 800 Pound Gorilla

OSHA and Temporary Workers

OSHA Regulation and the Growing Popularity of Employee Leasing Programs

OSHA Releases New Tools For Hospital Safety

OSHA's Regulatory Agenda for 2014

OSHA's Newly Proposed Record Keeping Rule Change

OSHA is Considering Changes to the PSM Standard

OSHA: “Transitioning to Safer Chemicals”

OSHA: Proposed New Rules Relative to Silica Dust Exposure in the Workplace

OSHA Issues First Ever Highway Safety Directive

OSHA Extends Enforcement Measures in Residential Construction

OSHA Issues Directive for Marine Cargo Handling Industry

Retailers Facing Increased Scrutiny by OSHA

OSHA to Inspect 41, 000 Workplaces this Year

OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness

OSHA Issues New Process Safety Management Standard for Cold Storage and Chemical Manufacturing Facilities


OSHA Attorneys Join Adams and Reese Houston Office


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OSHA Targets Workplace Violence
John D. Surma, August 7, 2015
For decades, acts of workplace violence were viewed as being limited to altercations between employees and "active shooter" situations involving a disgruntled employee or former employee. Generally speaking, those incidents occur within the four walls of the workplace or nearby company...

OSHA Issues New Guidance for Healthcare Entities
John D. Surma, July 14, 2015
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”), 2013 statistics demonstrate that healthcare workers have a rate of work-related illness and injury that is nearly twice as high as the overall rate seen in private industry.1 In the last five years, OSHA has issued...

OSHA Announces New Rules for Confined Spaces (Effective August 3, 2015)
John D. Surma,Collin G. Warren, May 29, 2015
On May 4, 2015, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a new final rule in the Federal Register intended to increase protection for construction workers in confined spaces (e.g., manholes, crawl spaces, tanks and other confined spaces that are not intended...

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Office Information

John D. Surma

1221 McKinney, Suite 4400
HoustonTX 77010


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