The Alberta Federation of Labour is applauding the auditor general's criticism of workplace safety in the province.

Merwan Saher, Alberta's acting auditor general, said a small but high-risk group of companies is consistently ignoring Occupational Health and Safety orders. His report, released Wednesday, also said the province is doing nothing about it.

It's a message the AFL has been sending government for years, said president Gil McGowan. He's hoping complaints by the auditor general will bring changes.

"You know that your system of workplace health and safety is badly broken when companies are not only allowed to break the law but they're actually handed awards that are supposed to be reserved for companies that play by the rules," McGowan said.

McGowan said the lives of thousands of Alberta workers are put at risk by the companies that flout the rules and, "in some cases, literally get away with murder."

Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk said he doesn't dispute the allegations in the auditor general's report and promised to make occupational health and safety a priority.