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This article considered the problem of designing joint-actuation mechanisms that can allow fast and accurate operation of a robot arm, while guaranteeing a suitably limited level of injury risk. Different approaches to the problem were presented, and a method of performance evaluation was proposed based on minimum-time optimal control with safety constraints. The variable stiffness transmission (VST) scheme was found to be one of a few different possible schemes that allows the most flexibility and potential performance. Some aspects related to the implementation of the mechanics and control of VST actuation were also reported.