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
What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been (OSHA’s new rules and the strange ways they work) - EHS Today 3/11/2015
A Prairie Farm Companion (Or What Can Go Wrong With I've Got a Pen and I've Got a Phone) 3/28/2014
I've Got a Pen and I've Got a Phone 3/14/2014
OSHA Releases New Tools For Hospital Safety 2/3/2014
Proposed New Rules Relative to Silica Dust Exposure in the Workplace - DRI, The Critical Path 1/9/2014
OSHA Attorneys Join Adams and Reese Houston Office 9/16/2011
Surma Interviewed on OSHA Citations Issued Against Ohio Employer Formed Fiber Technologies 7/17/2014
Surma Interviewed in Article on OSHA Citations Against Sterling Shipyard 7/17/2014
OSHA Attorney John Surma Interviewed About New Workplace Safety Requirements 10/7/2011
Newsletters / Alerts
OSHA Issues New Definition for Whistleblower Activity 5/15/2015
OSHA Announces New Rules for Confined Spaces (Effective August 3, 2015) 5/15/2015
U.S. Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling that Could Radically Change Employee Discipline 3/11/2015
OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rules Now Apply to Real Estate Industry Sectors 3/9/2015
Three OSHA Rule Changes all Employers Need to Be Aware of Heading Into 2015 10/23/2014
New Recordkeeping Rule from OSHA is a Game Changer 9/11/2014
OSHA Issues New Injury Reporting Rules 8/21/2014
The Latest On OSHA's Attempts to Protect Whistleblowers 6/9/2014
Six Spring OSHA Construction Updates 4/30/2014
OSHA Comments on Distracted Driving Initiative 4/21/2014
OSHA, the New Fracking Sheriff in Town 4/18/2014
OSHA Bulletin: Union Organizing’s 800 Pound Gorilla 4/17/2014
OSHA and Temporary Workers 3/17/2014
OSHA Regulation and the Growing Popularity of Employee Leasing Programs 2/10/2014
OSHA Releases New Tools For Hospital Safety 1/16/2014
OSHA’s Regulatory Agenda for 2014 1/10/2014
OSHA's Newly Proposed Record Keeping Rule Change 12/10/2013
OSHA is Considering Changes to the PSM Standard 12/5/2013
OSHA: “Transitioning to Safer Chemicals” 11/12/2013
OSHA: Proposed New Rules Relative to Silica Dust Exposure in the Workplace 10/31/2013
OSHA Issues First Ever Highway Safety Directive 10/30/2012
OSHA Extends Enforcement Measures in Residential Construction 10/1/2012
OSHA Issues Directive for Marine Cargo Handling Industry 8/24/2012
Retailers Facing Increased Scrutiny by OSHA 7/20/2012
OSHA to Inspect 41, 000 Workplaces this Year 6/14/2012
OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness 6/1/2012
OSHA Issues New Process Safety Management Standard for Cold Storage and Chemical Manufacturing Facilities 1/6/2012
OSHA Attorneys Join Adams and Reese Houston Office 9/16/2011
OSHA Update - ASSE Sabine Neches Chapter 3/3/2015
“OSHA Update: A Discussion About Two New Game-Changing Rule Changes Effective January 1, 2015” - Houston Bar Association Construction Law Section Luncheon Meeting 10/16/2014