A generic framework for consequence assessment and risk analysis of FPSO systems for the purpose of establishing structural design criteria is introduced, taking basis in recent work by the Joint Committee on Structural Safety (JCSS) addressing the issue of system representation through exposure events, direct and indirect failure consequences. The scenarios considered for risk-based calibration of a design code safety format for FPSO systems are outlined. It is shown how these scenarios may be represented in a generic risk assessment model using Bayesian Probabilistic Networks (BPNs). Risk acceptance criteria related to consequences to humans are determined based on the Life Quality Index (LQI), which is outlined and discussed in this paper. The generic risk framework and acceptance criteria are then applied in a companion paper  to build consequence models and to determine target reliability indices for structural design of FPSO components.