If you think protecting people’s health and safety on the job isn’t important, think again.

Job-related injuries and sickness kill more than 2.3 million people annually, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Economic fallout from illness and injury is also substantial, with an estimated annual loss of 4 percent of global gross domestic product.

“Safety and health at work is a basic human right, and a necessity for inclusive economic development,” the U.S. Department of Labor said as it announced a $10.5 million cooperative agreement supporting the ILO’s new Global Initiative on Occupational Safety and Health.

 The ILO project will begin with pilot efforts in Vietnam and the Philippines to improve occupational safety and health, especially among youth.

“Too many workers worldwide suffer from dangerous and unhealthy working conditions. We need a greater focus on prevention and enforcement efforts, particularly for vulnerable workers in hazardous sectors,” said the Department of Labor’s Carol Pier.

Every day, 6,400 people die from an occupational accident or disease. (© AP Images)

U.S. support for improving worker safety worldwide builds on and complements the United States’ ongoing domestic efforts to make workplaces safer. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, established in 1971, aims to ensure that every worker goes home safely at the end of every workday.

“Every employer has a responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers, and forward-looking businesses know that compromising the safety of workers to improve the bottom line is a false choice,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said April 29.

The United States partners with the ILO in other matters, including discussions on how to combat human trafficking and projects to end child labor. Learn more about human trafficking in the State Department’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.